Archive for 2014

Kash: Brown’s a Caretaker; I’ll Be Like Pope Francis

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

kashkari closeupRepublican candidate for governor Neel Kashkari on Saturday ridiculed 75-year-old Gov. Jerry Brown as a “caretaker” and defender of the status quo who is “half asleep,” saying he instead aspires to be a “transformational” leader in the mold of Pope Francis.

In an exclusive interview with Calbuzz at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame, Kashkari, 40, also said his background as a Hindu is the source of his libertarian social views on issues like gay marriage and abortion, in which he would allow individuals to make their own choices.

“Religiously, I’m Hindu and one of the things I really like about Hinduism is that it really respects all other religions,” Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official, said when asked to explain how his views on social issues evolved.

“It’s saying there’s not only one right answer,” he said. “So maybe it comes back to my religious philosophy which is that you find your own path and you’re the only person who can tell you what that right path is. And that then bleeds into my views on social issues whether it’s marriage or choice et cetera.”

Wings and world views: Kashkari — or Kash and Carry as he’s know at Calbuzz — is one of two leading GOP candidates for governor: the other is Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino, a pro-gun rights conservative whose views on social issues are 180 degrees opposite from Kashkari’s.

While Donnelly’s world view is more in sync with the conservative wing of the party that generally controls primary elections, Kashkari has raised far more money and holds positions overall more in tune with California’s general election voting population. With California’s new top-two primary system, Kashkari’s immediate goal is to place second to qualify for a November run-off.

Either candidate would face a prohibitive favorite in Brown, who already has raised more than $17 million and who enjoys widespread popularity, after balancing the state budget and calming the atmosphere in Sacramento.

Nevertheless, Kashkari argues, Brown is vulnerable.

“Unfortunately, ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ plays just as well in California today because we’re ranked 46th in jobs, 46th in education and No. 1 in poverty,” Kashkari said, referring to Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign mantra in ousting incumbent President George H.W. Bush.

jerrycasual“Jerry Brown doesn’t even acknowledge the people that are in poverty in California,” Kashkari said. “So his poll numbers are 50 to 60 percent approval. But only about a third of voters think he should be re-elected. For a Democratic governor in a Democratic state, his re-elect number should be a lot higher. And that’s because every time he says ‘California comeback’ families are looking across the dinner table at each other and saying ‘What in the world is that man talking about? We’re not back.’ So he’s very vulnerable.”

So you think California is worse off than it was four years ago? Calbuzz asked.

“He has not made the big changes that are necessary to put families back to work. Sure, we were in an economic free-fall and the knife is no longer falling. But has he done the big structural things that need to be done to reduce unemployment, to really fix the schools, to break the cycle of poverty, to rebuild the middle class? No way.”

Is California better off than it was four years ago?

“I would say no. It’s number one in poverty – 24% poverty rate. For those families living in poverty, no way. You go tell them that they’re better off,” Kashkari said.

Francis and Benedict: Kashkari charged that “Jerry Brown is good at one thing – lowering expectations, convincing you that the status quo is all that’s possible, all you can do is make minor changes.

“Let me give you an example…I love Pope Francis, I adore the guy. I’m not a Catholic but I adore Pope Francis. Pope Francis has been a transformational figure in the first six months that he’s been pope. Pope Francis has the exact same authorities and powers that Pope Benedict had before him…And look at what a transformational, powerful leader has been able to do when they use the office to its full potential….

“Do either of you think that Jerry Brown is a transformational leader? No, he’s a caretaker,” Kashkari said. “Now I’m not saying I’m Pope Francis but I can guarantee you this, I’m no caretaker. I’m not running for governor to sit there and kick my feet up and just defend the status quo. Absolutely not.”

“The executive’s job is to provide leadership to the Legislature,” he said. “Jerry Brown is just a caretaker. He’s not providing leadership. He’s half asleep. A hundred pet projects come out of the Legislature, or hundreds every year, and they just fall on the governor’s desk and he signs 95% of them.”

brown-mothertcropIrony and hot water: There was irony in Kashkari’s comparisons, given that the iconoclastic Gov. Gandalf, a former Jesuit seminarian who once tended the poor in Calcutta with Mother Teresa, has vetoed about double the percentage of bills that landed on his desk than did the Late Great Republican Saint Ronald Reagan — 12% compared to St. RR’s 6% — and chaptered far fewer bills per year than Reagan or former GOP Gov. George Deukmejian.

Moreover, the assertion that it’s the governor’s job to lead and the Legislature’s job to follow landed former Gov. Gray Davis in hot water even before he arrived in Sacramento in 1999. His comments to that effect, as reported at the time by future Calbuzzer Rob Gunnison, were deeply offensive to Legislative leaders who for some reason see themselves as a separate branch of government with powers the executive branch must accommodate.

Kashkari identified himself as a libertarian on social issues and repeatedly insisted that on gay marriage and abortion rights, he would seek no changes in the law. But on gun control, while he is a gun owner himself, he has no problem with laws requiring background checks or controlling possession of assault rifles.

Oil and jobs: Asked about drilling for oil off the coast of California, Kashkari said, “I’m OK for absolutely expanding our natural resources development both onshore and offshore although I think onshore has shown much more potential in the near term and will really create a lot of jobs.”

So if an oil company wants to drill off the coast of Santa Barbara, we asked, are you OK with that?

“I’m OK with having that conversation. The people of Santa Barbara are going to want to weigh in. We have to find the right balance,” he said. “To me, you can develop our natural resources while protecting the environment. It’s not either/or, you can do both at the same time. So I am for the environmentally sound development of our natural resources. You can do both.”

GOP Live Blog: We’re From the Press, Here to Help

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

sadelephantcropThis update just in: Sparing no sacrifice to bring the full story of the Republican state convention to Calbuzzers everywhere, we bailed from the glamorous P.J. Hackenflack dinner (more to come on that in days ahead) before all the drunks had left amid ongoing good fellowship to check out the parties hosted by the GOP rivals for governor.

At Neel Kashkari’s bash, a terrific band called Decades performed a 70s-Oughts-cover soundtrack for a crowd of several hundred folks more interested in gossiping about congressional races than in dancing. The candidate himself was ebullient, brandishing a long neck Bud as he moved through the hotel ballroom getting some love from fan boys and girls.

“I have nothing to lose,” he told us with a big smile, offering his after-hours assessment of his long-shot bid for governor. “I have nothing to fear.”

alonzocropIn another ballroom a few hundred feet away, opponent Tim Donnelly’s party seemed shaped by fear, as the candidate warned his guests about tyranny abroad and the communist menace in California.

In Cuba and Venezuela she escaped communists, Donnelly said, introducing his supporter and star attraction, the Cuban-born singer and actress Maria Conchita Alonso, who was raised in Venezuela. “”Now she is afraid the communists have come here.”

Rocking a long black dress with a serious thigh split and sporting four-inch heels, Ms. Conchita Alonso delivered a 10-minute incoherent rant – “I hate politics but when I get into politics I can’t stop” – and then sang…something…in a raspy voice before Donnelly put his arm around her and warned his supporters again of government tyrants out to control everything and the need to “take back our freedom.” From who was not clear.

Earlier: To our disappointment, no boffo brawls over God, guns or gays, of the type that has so entertained Calbuzz at past California Republican Party conventions, have yet erupted this weekend.

And yet: we’ve witnessed more than enough diverting events and images to applaud the success of our National Affairs Desk in scoring a $179 room (including complimentary, great view of the Bay) in which we’ve installed our Very Foreign Political Bureau and Hospitality Suite at the Burlingame Hyatt Hotel (we passed on the en suite Iced Prawns, at $5 apiece, minimum of 10, however). Let’s roll that tape:

Who’s strapped for the occasion? With Inland Empire Assembly member Tim Donnelly making way-out-there Second Amendment enthusiasm a centerpiece of his campaign for the nomination for governor – “Patriot Not Politician,” his signs say – we felt it necessary to question him and his chief rival about whether they were packing at the convention.

“Ha, ha,” replied Donnelly, who wore a black sateen team jacket with a gold Assembly logo, as he was surrounded by admirers and reporters in the lobby, when we asked.

kashkaridonnellyDoes that mean yes or no, we followed up, in textbook style.

“You have my answer,” the wannabe governor said, which we interpreted as not exactly a categorical denial.

Opponent Neel Kashkari, who boasts of his ownership of several guns in an effort to checkmate Donnelly on the NRA issue, was more direct.

“No, I am not armed,” he told us, which reassured us as we sat chatting with him in the coffee shop.

Go die, mo fo: GOP Chairman Jim Brulte, an insider’s insider who loves to gossip and BS with reporters off the record, looked positively pained to have to speak on the record with a press gaggle that invaded his suite as the convention began.

“The chairman wanted to get together with you…” Communications Director Mark Standriff said, signalling the floor was open to reporters, who had plopped down on cushy couches in the chairman’s comfy sitting room.

“Strike that,” Brulte interrupted, perhaps in jest. “My staff wanted me to get together with you.”

brulteFor half than an hour or more he then fended off questions about a) whether the GOP has the wherewithal to win even a single statewide office (doesn’t sound like it); b) about what the party is doing to entice minorities into its tent (recruiting more candidates in minority neighborhoods); c) why there isn’t a Republican running in every legislative and congressional district in the state (it’s not worth the money).

Wrapping up the lively session, one decrepit Calbuzzer asked how Brulte aimed to defy demographics by winning support from Latinos, who’ve stayed away in droves from the GOP ever since ex-Governor Pete Wilson energetically sponsored Prop. 187 in his win-the-battle lose-the-war re-election campaign twenty years ago.

“I don’t want answer your specific question,” Brulte began, wriggling in a most reasonable tone.

“Yeah, why would you start now,” snarked the Calbuzz correspondent, who apropos of nothing has missed several conventions while working deep undercover to investigate every disagreeable aspect of the health care system.

“This was easier when you were on your deathbed,” Brulte riposted, in as pleasant a tone as such a sentiment could be delivered.

Sic semper tyrannis.

012513_Varney_StandriffWe’re with the press, where’s the food. Standriff, who’s always saintly in his dealings with the press, went above and beyond to accommodate the Fourth and Fifth Estates this time with an uncommonly friendly crew of staffers and press room volunteers, in addition to other frills.

For starters, the convention schedule included a menu to be made available to more or less working members of the media (all weird capitalization theirs):

Meals will be provided for working press only:

-Friday afternoon – Hearty Soup, Cheese and Cracker Tray, Fresh Vegetable Tray

 -Saturday morning – Bagels with assorted Cream Cheese, Sliced Breakfast Bread, Assorted Fruit Tray

– Saturday lunch – Ham, Turkey, Roast Beef and Vegetarian Sandwiches, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw, Cookies and Energy Bars

– Saturday dinner – Dim Sum, Chicken Spring Rolls, Seared Ahi Tuna with Nori and Wasabi

-Sunday morning – Bagels with assorted Cream Cheese, Granola

-Coffee station with assorted juices and sodas.

We had no complaints, except for all the unnecessary vegetables and the sad lack of lox and capers at breakfast.

New boss, just like the old boss. One after another, convention speakers keep lauding the crucial importance of  “grassroots” volunteers, issues and organization; we note, however, that the “Gold Sponsors” of the opening night’s big dinner bore resemblance to a roll call of influential corporations and special interests in Sacramento, including the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the California Hospital Association, PG&E, Farmers Insurance and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. Not much enthusiasm from the crowd when SEIU 1000’s Silver Sponsorship was announced.

No sign of the California Teachers Association yet, however.

Reince PriebusThe real Mr. Chairman. Perhaps because our expectations were so low, we found Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus to be a pretty solid speechifier, who played against type in his nuts and bolts talk to 1,000 delegates by using Actual Facts instead of the usual heaps of hogwash rhetoric uttered by Beltway colonialists.

While Priebus will never be confused as an orator with Jesse Jackson, his pitch on behalf of compressing and moving the presidential primary calendar, limiting the number of debates and mastering the Obama-style use of data bases to help the party’s 2016 candidate made a lot of sense politically, even if such changes will undercut the fun factor for campaign reporters.

In trumpeting his practical strategy, Priebus also aimed a shot at Tea Party alleged insurgents, who doubtless will caterwaul that his plan is a treacherous scheme to undercut the efforts of true patriots everywhere.

“It’s not an establishment takeover,” he said. “Not everything is a conspiracy.”

For the record, while Mr. Chairman spoke, Calbuzz conducted a trademark wide-ranging investigation, which included at least five minutes on Google, to determine exactly how weird his name is, an undertaking that turns out to have been previously completed by Slate.

The Social Security Administration’s death index, which records U.S. deaths back to 1962, includes just four people named Priebus. To put that into perspective, 880,661 Smiths and 483,864 Joneses have passed on during the same period. In addition, the index lists 38,739 Reids, 31,591 Steeles, 15,692 McConnells, 518 Pelosis, and 294 Boehners. (Eight of the Boehners were named John.) There is only one Obama.

Reince is a very rare first name, although a few immigrants from Flemish Belgium have brought Reince to the United States as a last name. Forty-one people with the last name Reince have died in the United States since 1962. When he passes on, Chairman Priebus could become the only person with the first name Reince in the death index.

You could look it up.

faulk 9d2da3bf3f55d810259ce77793719ec6That’s Faulconer, not Faulkner, you moron.  The convention’s big hero is Kevin Faulconer, the recently elected mayor of San Diego, who overcame a Democratic edge in registration to win the city’s top political gig after grab-and-grope ex-mayor Bob Filner was forced to leave office in disgrace.

At every caucus, meal and conversation of more than one person, Faulconer’s upset victory is being hailed as the exemplar of Brulte’s long game strategy of electing Republicans to local non-partisan offices as a means of building a bench of credible candidates and grooming future statewide players.

“What we did in San Diego, we can do up and down the state,” Faulkner said told Friday, boasting of thwarting the opposition of public employee unions.

SEIU take heed.

Road Trip! Hackenflack Heads to the CA GOP Confab

Friday, March 14th, 2014

barbie1As the entire national and international affairs desks of Calbuzz (pictured here interviewing a leader of the GOP platform committee), newly repatriated after exhaustive voter studies in Santiago, Ushuaia and Buenos Aires, prepare to relocate to Burlingame for the California Republican Party convention this weekend, one question looms above all others:

Will Tim Donnelly come armed?

For those who were sleeping during the movie, Donnelly is the Tea Party Republican Assemblyman from San Bernardino, who was caught trying to carry a loaded Colt Mark IV pistol onto an airplane at Ontario “International” Airport in January 2012.

He is now running for governor. Of California. Naturally.

Or at least he was, until his campaign manager, Jennifer Kerns, quit on Wednesday just before the GOP convention where the anti-immigrant Minuteman has been planning a Sábado Gigante reception featuring actress, singer and song writer Maria Conchita Alonso (better known as Lucía, the mother of Gabrielle Solis, on ABC’s Desperate Housewives).

No Great Divide The notion that the pro-life, anti-gay marriage Donnelly and Neel Kashkari, the pro-choice, pro-gay rights “free market” Republican candidate for governor represent a “great divide” within the California GOP is, as Jerry Brown might say, nihil ad rem.

kashkaridonnellyIf past were prologue, and the California Republicans gathering this weekend could align themselves with one camp or the other, you’d have to bet they’d pick Donnelly, whose right-wing world view reflects the thinking of most GOP conventioneer types.

Luckily for them, party rules won’t permit an endorsement. But even if they did, it wouldn’t matter, because (barring some catastrophe) Democratic Gov. Brown is going to be re-elected in a landslide next November. Take the incumbent and give the points.

In other words, there is no authentic “battle for the future” going on inside the California Republican Party: there are ideological angels dancing on pinheads.

We Want to Know… Which is not to say there aren’t some potentially noteworthy questions to be explored at the GOP confab:

— Will libertarian Republicans be smoking dope? Will the party stop harping on gay marriage? Will there be any guys with Mohawks?

— Will Party Chairman Jim Brulte’s head explode? He left a lucrative position as a Sacramento consultant for this? “I didn’t give anything up,” he told Calbuzz. “I just took a job that pays nothing.”

— How will Kashkari handle himself on his maiden voyage among the responsible wingnut community GOP faithful?

— How drunk will delegates get if they play a drinking game where they have to take a shot every time U.S. Thug Rep. Darryl Issa (R-LoJack) mentions Benghazi or the IRS?

— Will the GOP offer any event that will outshine the Saturday night Dr. P.J. Hackenflack Dinner?

sickelephantCalbuzz has spent considerable energy already outlining steps the California Republican Party could take to become competitive again.

Of course, our advice has been roundly ignored by the party that is determined to drive its share of the electorate below 25% (from the 29% it’s at now). But actual facts support the Calbuzz Plan for GOP Recovery in California. For example:

“In a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, 56 percent of Republicans under age 45 indicated support for same-sex marriage rights, compared with just 29 percent among older Republicans,” the NYT reported the other day.

According to the Field Poll, support for abortion rights has grown among California Republicans from about 50% in 1975 to 55% by 2009 and likely even higher today.

When Will They Ever Learn? What the Republicans don’t seem to get is that younger voters – the ones they’d like to bring into the party to avoid sinking further into irrelevancy – are increasingly in favor of abortion rights and gay marriage, not to mention concerned about climate change, immigrant rights and gun violence.

jimbrulteJim Brulte, the GOP chairman, is focused on three things: maintaining the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, eliminating the Democrats’ super-majorities in the California Legislature, and building up a grass-roots Republican base.

These are smart goals because they’re things that the GOP might actually accomplish. Note, there’s no mention of capturing any statewide offices, re-taking control of the Legislature or building the party’s voting strength. But hey, Brulte was handed a steaming pile of elephant dung. You gotta start shoveling somewhere.

Merv Field at 93: A Tribute to California’s “Swami”

Monday, March 10th, 2014

mervin_field-210x300Mervin Field, a pioneer in using non-partisan public opinion research to analyze and interpret politics, will be feted, honored and gushed over by friends, colleagues and neighbors on his Marin County hometown turf tonight.

On the eve of Field’s 93rd birthday, we enthusiastically join the Town of Tiburon — which is to host a community celebration of his life and work in its council chambers this evening — in lauding Merv and the 67 years during which nearly 2,500 Field Poll reports have helped explain the Golden State to its citizens and to the nation.

jerrynew“In my lifetime,” Governor Jerry Brown told Calbuzz, “the use of political polls has dramatically increased. This sea change – to no small degree – has been due to the work of Merv Field. As a longtime consumer of these polls, I salute Merv and his dedicated life of service to California.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in an email that, “Merv Field’s name and work are synonymous with civic engagement and public opinion in the state of California. 

“Merv is a walking encyclopedia of California political knowledge, and for nearly seven decades, the Field Poll has sepelosirved as the gold standard of opinion research, information, and analysis,” Pelosi added.

For many years, Field has been not only a go-to source, but also a counselor, mentor and sounding board for both the vast, far-flung Calbuzz editorial team, and for public affairs reporters and political professionals throughout the state. He is known to insiders as “The Swami,” a nickname bestowed when he performed as a turban-topped soothsayer at “The Party’s Not Over,” an annual hacks and flacks bash, led by a “non semi-steering committee” (whose membership included Field and Pelosi, among others) which had a long run during the 1980s and ‘90s at Bimbo’s in San Francisco.

“I clearly remember the first time I met the man who to me was a superstar,” recalled now-superstar Democratic consultant Gale Kaufman. “It was one of the political dinners at Bimbo’s and he was just so charming, funny and smart. He didn’t know me from a hole in the wall and yet he and I had a thoughtful intense conversation. His analysis of California issues has always been a cut above. He was always willing to talk to those of us coming up in the profession, to answer questions and share insights.”

gallupField meets Gallup: Field’s passion for polling political, policy and marketing issues began in 1937, when he got the chance during high school to meet George Gallup, America’s vanguard pollster, who had started his company two years before.

Field began in the profession when survey takers went door-to-door with clipboards and results were hand-tabulated. Establishing genuine random samples was a challenge until the telephone became ubiquitous. By the 1970s, it became easier for pollsters to create random samples of the population, whose opinions could represent the views of the whole population in much the same way a blood sample tells physicians what’s going on in the body without testing all of a person’s blood.

Field was a pioneer in scientific polling using the telephone and, in the 21st Century, with Mark DiCamillo directing survey operations, has overseen his firm’s transition to the use of voter lists and cell phones as a means of fully reaching the voting population. While most of the Field Institute’s income is derived from complex polling for governments, civic groups, corporations and educational institutions, its timely political surveys are what catches public attention.

All of which has helped make polling – and especially the Field Poll – ever more popular and influential.

trippi“When Merv Field’s polls differed from our campaign polls I always believed his,” said Democratic consultant Joe Trippi, who helped Brown return to the governor’s office in 2010. “He was that good. For a pioneer who measured the ups and downs of campaigns and issues, Merv Field rose to the top and stayed there — a giant.”

From button-down to bedlam:  For many years, California political reporters were pestered and harassed by campaign operatives (and, in big races, by East Coast colleagues) to disclose the dates and times when the Field Poll would be released — closely held information known only to news organizations that paid for subscriptions to the poll — because of its influence in informing and influencing the pre-election opinions of voters.

Field’s once-singular position in the marketplace, however, today has been lost to the nihilistic bedlam of countless polls pushed out non-stop by news outlets, campaigns and cheap, quick-buck artists. Polling pandemonium now blares and echoes across the 24/7 cable and internet news cycles, broadcast, published and ignorantly discussed without regard to quality, methodology or statistical validity, amid the second-by-second eyeballs race to be first, new and buzzworthy.

Which makes our blood boil.

mcnallyThe down side: Not only do news organizations often mischaracterize poll findings, frequently lending significance to differences that are within the margin of error, but they often use polling as a substitute for more serious reporting of candidates’ stands on issues, their backgrounds, the veracity of their arguments and the quality of their campaigns. Instead of examining these kinds of issues, some news organizations rely almost entirely on horse-race reporting of candidates’ standings.

This, according to many in the political world, has not been an improvement in political coverage. And while he remains perhaps the most influential pollster in California (the free-to-all Public Policy Institute of California polls overseen by Mark Baldassare, and the USC/Los Angeles Times poll also have substantial weight and reach), Field comes in for his share of criticism for the current state of affairs.

“Merv’s impact on California politics has been profound, but not all for the better,” Republican consultant Ray McNally told us. “Unquestionably, his polling has brought insight and excitement to political contests. But it has also been a major driver behind how the media cover campaigns, changing the focus from issues and substance to campaign mechanics in which the breaking news is who’s ahead. Instead of debates, we have horse races,” he said.

galekaufmann“Early polling has destroyed potentially great candidates and bolstered mediocre ones based solely on name ID, often months before the race begins. And that’s not healthy for democracy.”

“The Field Poll opened the door for every other California public poll to exist and for private polling to emulate — so many polls, such different methods and so much hype,” noted Kaufman. “(But) Merv is a class act whose love for politics, accuracy and professional ethics I believe we all respect.”

Bottom line. From Leader Pelosi: “Californians understand our state, our communities, and our political issues and leadership better thanks to Merv Field.”

More Field Notes Five things you may not know about Merv Field:

1-He played football with Albert Einstein. Sort of. During the Depression, he caddied at a golf course in Princeton, New Jersey, where he and his colleagues sometimes played touch football. As Princeton professor Einstein walked by one day, the ball sailed over Merv’s head; the great man returned it to Field with a soccer-style kick.

2-He cheated death in the Merchant Marine. Merv served three years on transport ships during World War II and survived Nazi U-boat attacks, as well as collisions at sea. When he was off-duty, such incidents  annoyingly interrupted his off-duty hours reading about survey research.

3-He is a Herb Caen-style three-dot columnist. For years Merv has written “Merv Field’s File,” an items column for The Ark, a paid subscription weekly paper serving Tiburon, Belvedere, Strawberry and East Corte Madera. Quick sample: “Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’  Then a voice says to me, ‘this is going to take more than one night.’” Ba-dum-dum.

Lawrence-Welk-9527209-1-4024-He has a close connection to Lawrence Welk. Merv was born on March 11, 1921, the same day as the great American mathematician Frank Harary, who helped invent graph theory. He also shares a birthday with Shemp Howard, Rupert Murdoch and the iconic late bandleader and accordionist Lawrence “Wun’erful Wun’erful” Welk.

5-He’s one of the top 30 of the 20th.  In its last pre-millennium issue, the late, lamented California Journal listed the 30 people who most influenced California government and politics in the 20th Century, including Merv: Over the past half century, Field and his poll have defined California politics…In the national media, the myth grew that if you want to see America tomorrow, look at California today. And Field became the lens through which most of the nation viewed California.