The race to elect a new California governor is a virtual tie between Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Republican Sen. Pete Wilson, according to the Los Angeles Times Poll.

The statewide survey found Feinstein, a former mayor of San Francisco, supported by 40 percent and Wilson by 37 percent, a statistical tie given a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Voters are backing the nominee of their party by nearly a 4-to-1 ratio, the poll showed, which should help Feinstein in a state that has more Democrats than Republicans.

Feinstein, however, has some political repair work to do. Only half the Democrats who voted for Attorney General John Van de Kamp in the bitter June 5 primary now support her, and one-third of them back Wilson.

There is a "gender gap" in the contest, with women supporting Feinstein by a 4-to-3 ratio and men supporting Wilson by a 5-to-4 ratio, the survey showed. But GOP women remain loyal to Wilson by nearly a 3-to-1 ratio.

Feinstein's challenge -- "Let's make history" by electing California's first female governor -- so far has not persuaded most voters. The poll found only 37 percent agree with the statement, "It's time we had a woman governor."

Both Feinstein and Wilson support abortion rights and the death penalty, but the poll found that voters who support abortion rights side with Feinstein by a 4-to-3 ratio and those who favor the death penalty back Wilson by a 5-to-4 ratio.