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Memo to Pundits; Carly Comes Clean; Don’t Miss TV

Sep4

Jeez, it’s not even Labor Day and your austerity-based Calbuzz pundits are already deep in despair from listening to East Coast pundits-for-hire punditize for big bucks about California’s campaigns, as if they actually knew something about the state.

But we don’t complain.

However, we do suggest that rather than endlessly spouting superficial crapchurn, the Beltway Big Thinkers educate themselves about the not-so-Golden State, starting with the Public Policy Institute of California’s latest set of profiles on the electorate.

Wherein the savants will discover that:

– Democrats comprise 44% of likely voters, Republicans 35% and independents 18%.

– Six in 10 voters are either liberal (31%) or moderate (29%) while just 40% are conservative.

– About four in 10 independents (39%) lean Democrat and about three in 10 each lean Republican or toward neither party.

– Latinos, of whom 65% are Democrats, comprise 18% of the likely electorate and two-thirds of them are either moderate (33%) or liberal (32%) while about one third are conservative.

Here’s the nut graph in the PPIC report:

Because neither of the major political parties has a majority of California’s registered voters, independents are influential in statewide elections. For example, in the previous gubernatorial election, 54% of independents in our post-election survey said they voted for Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. But in the 2008 presidential election, most independents (59%) said they supported Democrat Barack Obama. In each case, the outcome reflected the choice of the majority of independents.

This explains in part why Calbuzz has consistently argued that Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina’s opposition to 1) a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and 2) California’s pioneering climate-change law, AB 32 (which polling shows independents favor), represent a substantive problem for the Republican candidates.

On the other hand, more voters now prefer lower taxes and fewer state services (48%) compared to those who prefer higher taxes and more services (43%) – a potential problem for Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer.

California elections remain a battle for the moderate and independent voters who have only loose ties to either Democratic or Republican orthodoxy.

As the unerring-instinct-for-the-obvious cable TV swamis endlessly repeat,   polling shows that the economy is the No. 1 issue among voters; that would be what you call news that stays news.

But we remain convinced that for many voters in the crucial precincts of the moderate middle, once they identify a candidate as extreme on certain threshold issues – like choice, environment and legalization of immigrants – they don’t care what their position is on the economy or anything else. They’re off the table.

Elephant gives birth to mouse: Did Carly Fiorina burn the midnight oil after Wednesday night’s debate, cramming to get up to speed on Proposition 23, the oil-company sponsored initiative to roll back California’s greenhouse gas emissions law?

Through 15 rounds of excruciatingly annoying avoidance, Fiorina refused, both in the debate and in a brief press conference that followed, to state a clear position on Prop. 23, even though it was clear to every person who hadn’t fallen sound asleep that she supported the measure, given her endless attacks on the landmark climate change legislation the thing would repeal.

“I’m focusing on a national energy policy,” she solemnly informed debate moderator Randy Shandobil, when he pleaded with her to answer a simple yes or no question about her stance on the measure.

So on Friday, after being roundly mocked for her bush league hemming and hawing (not to mention bashed on the air by John and Ken, our favorite L.A. radio knuckledraggers ) Fiorina finally put out a release about her  positions on the ballot props.

Turns out she supports Prop. 23. Stop the presses Maude…oh, never mind…

Which raises the question: Why all the game playing Wednesday night? Why not just say she’s for Prop. 23 and be done with it, instead of creating a pointless kerfuffle about all her wiggling around? Six possible reasons:

a) She was confused. The Prop. 23 question didn’t come up in debate prep, and she was so tightly wound that her dyslexia kicked in so she couldn’t remember whether Prop. 23 suspended AB 32 or Prop. 32 suspended AB 23.

b) She was being a control freak. Under pressure, her OCD kicked in and she thought it would be wayyyy too messy to disclose her positions on the other eight props in the press release aimed at the all-important Saturday papers, having already let the cat out of the bag on the big one.

c) She was being calculating. Anxious about coverage describing how she’s gotten so far out on the right that she’ll have trouble attracting independents, she thought maybe she could finesse the issue.

d) She was being stupid. See c) .

e) She was conflicted. She really, really wanted to take some time reflecting and pondering the complexities and nuances of the measure. (Oy/ed.)

f) She hadn’t been told what she thought yet. The Wilson-Khachigian axis was still determining the final “band aid” spin to explain her opposition.

Calbuzz sez:  f).

In case you (somehow) missed it: Here is the must-see video of Arizona Governor and chief nitwit Jan Brewer melting down in a televised debate  (h/t Jason Linkins).

Second City’s imagined take at how the deal went down is here and Craig Ferguson’s sound effects version (warning: not for those averse to fart jokes) is here.

Hard to believe, but Brewer actually did herself a favor with that world-class Bambi-in-the-high-beams performance, as it distracted attention from her much more serious screw-up of excitedly telling the world about beheadings in the Arizona desert that,well, actually didn’t happen.

"Off with their heads!"

For good measure, you can find Brewer’s dig-yourself-in-deeper comments that 1) she only did the debate because she wanted to get public campaign funding; 2) doesn’t like “adversarial” situations; 3) won’t participate in any more debates here.


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There are 3 comments for this post

  1. avatar Bob Mulholland says:

    Both Fiorina on the Proposition 23 question and Republican Governor Jan Brewer with the 12 second stare into space reminded me of Admiral Stockdale’s remark in the 1992 debate- Who am I and Where am I at.

  2. avatar Adelaides Lament says:

    I agree with Bob – and imagine the look on eMeg’s face if she ever had to ask: “where’s my purse?”

  3. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    All that data shows me that turnout will be the critical factor. Democratic candidates need to give voters a reason to show up to the polls. And, “The Republicans are threatening me” is probably not going to do it.

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