On the high-profile races for governor and U.S. Senate, the survey out Wednesday night from the Public Policy Institute of California breaks little new ground. But, combined with the Field Poll from last week, it does offer some insight into whether it makes any sense at all for Steve Poizner to be using illegal immigration to make himself the preferred candidate for conservatives in the Republican primary against Meg Whitman.
The answer? We don’t get it.
According to PPIC’s polling, 66% of registered voters believe illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the U.S. for two years or more should be given a chance to keep their jobs and apply for legal status. And that includes 78% of Democrats, 68% of independents and even 49% of Republicans, compared to 46% of Republicans who say deport ’em.
In other words, this is not a slam-dunk issue with Republicans. Apparently Poizner thinks he can goose the issue a bit (see Pete Wilson, 1994, “They Keep Coming”), feeding off a sentiment PPIC found: that while 64% of Democrats and 52% of independents say immigrants are a benefit to California, 68% of Republicans say they are a burden.
“It’s somewhat fertile ground,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “But it doesn’t have the salience and relevance that it had in earlier downturns . . . That’s not to say it won’t resonate with some of the more conservative voters, but it doesn’t seem like a topic that’s going to attract broad support among Republican voters this time around.”
True, the Field Poll found, illegal immigration is a top-tier issue for Republicans (fourth in importance after the state budget deficit, jobs/economy and taxes) compared to a lower-level issue for voters overall. As Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo noted of Poizner: “He’s singled out an issue that is of greater importance to Republican primary voters. It’s red meat . . . Whether it’s going to make a difference, I don’t know. He’s so far behind.”
Indeed. Poizner is in a huge hole: PPIC found him 50 points behind Whitman at 61-11% — about the same as the Field Poll’s 63-14%. It’s hard to see how he can gain enough ground on Whitman on this issue. On the other hand, maybe the Commish is part of a secret GOP plot to make eMeg look more moderate in the general election: if Poizner comes up short, he will have succeeded in making Whitman look more reasonable to Latino voters in November.
Heavens knows she needs some help on that front: while PPIC has her ahead of Brown 44-39% overall, he’s beating her 45-35% among Latinos (it was 54-25% for Brown in the Field Poll). Even before Brown makes a serious case to Latino voters, as Calbuzz noted the other day.
BTW, in case you missed it, catch Tony Quinn’s bitch-slap of Poizner at Fox & Hounds under the headline “Poizner’s Suicidal Mission” in which he argues:
Facing political collapse, he has resorted to the historic tactic of a political scoundrel, race baiting, in this case making immigrant bashing the central theme of his faltering campaign . . . Poizner has accomplished one thing; he’s made himself unelectable in November, and further damaged his own party.
PPIC, meanwhile, found that Whitman now leads Attorney General Jerry Brown 44-39% among likely November voters. Partisan support moved just a skosh between January and March – Democrats now 65-17% for Brown, were 69-12% for Brown in January; Republicans now 77-10% for Whitman, were 73-10% for Whitman in January.
But independents – those who have no roots in either party and who are most susceptible to Whitman’s TV ad campaign – moved big time. They were 36-28% for Brown in January and by March they had lurched to 43-37% for Whitman – a net 14% shift in two months. In other words, eMeg’s positive ads for herself, her attacks on Poizner and his attacks on Whitman have helped boost Meg with independent voters.
Looking at the electorate by age, Brown runs best – 71-17% — among Democrats age 55 and older, compared to 61-17% among Democrats age 18-54. But Whitman creams Brown among Republicans, 76-8% among Republican age 18-54 and 79-11% among Republicans 55 and older.
All of which suggests Brown’s challenge is to move independents of all ages back into his column and knock Whitman down among the nearly two in 10 Democrats who are currently enamored with her. This is where – if Calbuzz is reading the tea leaves correctly – Brown will use eMeg’s stand against AB32, the pioneering climate change law, to drive her supporters to him.
Other findings, lifted straight out of PPIC’s press release:
“The Republican primary race for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat has tightened since January, when Tom Campbell led both Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore among Republican likely voters (27% Campbell, 16% Fiorina, 8% DeVore). Today, Campbell and Fiorina are in a close race (24% Fiorina, 23% Campbell), and DeVore’s level of support is unchanged (8%). In this campaign—which has seen little advertising—the largest percentage of likely voters (44%) is undecided, similar to January (48%).
“In hypothetical November matchups, incumbent Boxer is deadlocked with Campbell (43% to 44%) . . . A plurality of independents support Campbell (48% Campbell, 32% Boxer, 20% undecided). Since January, support for Boxer has dropped 10 points among independents, and Campbell’s support has increased 11 points . . . “Boxer is in a similarly tight race with Fiorina (44% to 43%) . . . Among independents, Fiorina leads Boxer (41% Fiorina, 35% Boxer, 24% undecided).”
First ever: half the voters favor same-sex marriage
“Among all Californians, residents are more likely to favor (50%) than oppose (45%) same-sex marriage for the first time in the PPIC Statewide Surveys. Support among all adults has never surpassed 45 percent since the question was first asked in January 2000. There are clear partisan divisions: majorities of Democrats (64%) and independents (55%) are in favor, and most Republicans (67%) are opposed.
“There is much more consensus on the issue of gays and lesbians in the military. In the wake of Obama’s announcement that he would like to repeal the federal “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy passed in 1993, 75 percent of Californians say that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military.”