[Update: We now have the poll in hand and will confirm all our numbers.]
Holy mole, we said (having just returned from Mexico), when we heard (from actual subscribers to the Field Poll) that eMeg Whitman has jumped to a 49-point lead over Steve “The Commish” Poizner in the Republican primary for governor and skittered to a three-point edge over Democrat Crusty the General Brown in the general election.
Here at Calbuzz, which our good friends at the Field Poll considers too bootleg to take on as a paid subscriber, we wondered: With eMeg leading Poiz 63-14%, why shouldn’t we just declare him done and call for the fork?
“Because,” said his spokesguy Jarrod Agen, “it’s still too early. The voters know little about Meg. She’s run a couple of positive spots that haven’t laid out any solutions. Steve’s commercials [which we haven’t seen yet] will lay out real solutions and when voters compare the two they’re going to choose the guy who will cut taxes across the board and cut benefits to illegal immigrants over an online auction CEO.”
What else can he say? His guy’s favorable-unfavorable ratio is 16-32%, including 12-30% among Democrats, 17-32% among non-partisans and just 20-34% among Republicans. Oy.
With the help of about $40 in total spending and an estimated $13 million on cable and broadcast advertising, eMeg favorable-unfavorable is now 40-27%, including 24-36% among Democrats, 46-22% among non-partisans and 56-16% among Republicans. Thereby proving that the Beatles were wrong: money CAN buy you some love.
The margin of error in the Field Poll, we are told, was plus-or-minus 5.5 percentage points among 353 likely Republican primary voters. But eMeg’s lead is so big and so broad, error margins have no meaning.
The 3.7% margin among 748 likely November voters is more relevant, since Field found eMeg leading Crusty 46-43% — a convincing 13-point shift from January when Brown led Whitman 46-36% — but within the margin of error.
We don’t have the actual Field Poll in hand and Mark DiCamillo won’t talk to us until after the actual subscribers have published their stories, but if we have the data right, it’s clear that Whitman has picked up ground on Brown, especially among independents. While Brown leads 69-20% among Democrats and Whitman leads 77-13% among Republicans, eMeg also now leads among non-partisans 50-36%.
Moreover, while Brown has a gigonda lead among the liberals who make up 20% of the electorate and Whitman has a healthy lead among conservatives who make up 35% of the voters, they’re just about dead even (Whitman 43%, Brown 42%) over the middle-of-the-road voters who make up 45% of the voting public.
Interestingly, there seems to be little gender effect in the Whitman-Brown contest: Whitman leads 45-43% among women and 47-43% among men.
Brown’s hold on the older voters who remember him best, however, appears somewhat fragile: if the Field Poll is to be believed (and if we’ve got it right), Brown leads by 10 points among voters age 18-39, but trails by 7 points among those 40-64 and by 10 points among those 65 and older. We’ll look more closely at the age issue when we can talk to the folks at Field and when the Public Policy Institute of California comes out with their poll next week.
BTW: According to Field, Brown’s overall favorable-unfavorable ratio is just 41-37%; among Democrats it is 60-20%, it’s 38-34% among non-partisans and 19-60% among Republicans.
It’s hard to argue with Brown spokesperson Sterling Clifford (aka Clifford Sterling) when he notes: “Meg Whitman has spent a year and $40 million running for governor and what that’s accomplished is that she’s in a virtual dead heat with Jerry Brown, who launched his campaign two weeks ago.”
One area where Poizner’s money could have an effect is among conservative voters who, for now, seem OK with Whitman. Poizner has been hammering Whitman in public appearances and web materials as a squish. But he hasn’t done much of that on TV. As a result, Meg leads Brown among those voters who identify a lot with the Tea Party movement by 87-8% and she leads among those who identify somewhat 75-17%. If Poizner makes her out of be a liberal in conservative clothing, those numbers could drop.
Which would be good news to Brown, who leads Whitman 58-29% among the 67% of voters who say they do not identify with or don’t know anything about the Tea Party movement.