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Archive for 2014



CD 17: Khanna Says Race Tied; ‘No Way’ Says Honda

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Ro-Khanna

Calbuzz seldom puts much stock in polls pushed by campaigns, for one simple reason: they don’t tell you the results when they’re not good for their candidate. On the other hand, when a campaign is willing to give us the whole survey and we can see if it makes sense, we’re more likely to bite.

So when the Ro Khanna campaign touted a new poll showing their guy even at 38% with U.S. Rep. Mike Honda in Silicon Valley’s 17th CD, we were willing to take a look, if they gave us the entire thing, from San Francisco pollster David Binder. Which they did.

According to Binder’s poll, the Khanna-Honda race is – against the odds — up for grabs, with Khanna pulling 33% plus 5% of leaners and Honda drawing 34% and 4% of leaners. That leaves about one-fourth of the voters – 24% — undecided and up for grabs with less than three weeks to go.

Some Very Strange Results: But no sooner had the Khanna poll hit the internets when the Honda campaign suddenly discovered, by golly, they also had a poll in hand, claiming to show that Honda is leading Khanna 42-27%, with 31% undecided. But Honda’s campaign didn’t release the whole survey, wouldn’t tell us how voters were selected and contains some inexplicable weird results.

Mike_hondaFor example, 21% of the respondents in the Honda survey, done by David Mermin of Lake Research Partners, volunteered to pollsters that they had already voted. But that’s not possible: ballots had just been mailed out to voters in the district and even Mermin acknowledged “people are lying – there’s a lot of over-reporting.” The Honda poll also includes 38% Asian-Americans (compared to 28% in the Khanna survey). That’s not impossible, but it sure seems unlikely.

Even stranger is this: If the Honda survey is correct, not only would Khanna have made no progress since the primary, when he got 28% of the vote, but Honda would have lost 6 percentage points, or 12.5% of the 48% he got in the primary. And this is supposed to show strength by the incumbent? Hmmm.

According to Binder’s poll for Khanna, his candidate’s favorable-to-unfavorable rating is now 57-14% while Honda’s is 57-28%. So Honda is better known, but his negatives are considerably higher.

The questions on voter preference and favorability were, according to the Khanna survey we’ve been given, asked before any “push” questions that campaigns use to test various themes. That makes them “clean” questions, not affected by information imparted to respondents by later questions.

Testing An Attack Line: The one “push” question in the brief survey of 400 likely voters, was as follows:

Press reports have suggested that that Honda’s Congressional office illegally coordinated with campaign staff by inviting people to an official State Department event for the purposes of securing campaign donations, and that his staff violated ethics rules by running his personal errands on official time. If these allegations were proven true, would you be very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not concerned at all?

The results: very concerned 32%; somewhat concerned 35%; just a little 8%, not at all 20%.  (1% said it’s not true and 4% preferred not to answer.)

The survey then asked: If these ethical issues about Congressman Honda are proven true, would this make you more likely to vote for Khanna, more likely to vote for Honda, or does this make no difference to you?

PollingAbout a third of voters – 32% — said they’de be more likely to vote for Khanna; 8% said they’d be more likely to vote for Honda, and 53% said it would make no difference.

As far as we can tell, the campaign tested no other attack lines against Honda and did not attempt to measure support after this one, except to see if it has some effect – which is obviously does.

The Honda campaign may have tested other communication points, but the campaign did not reveal them.

As far as their voter models, there’s not much difference: both assume 46% Democrats; Khanna has 23% Republicans, 27% Decline-to-states and 4% minor party voters; Honda has 21% Republicans, 30% no party preference and 3% other.

The Khanna survey was conducted Oct. 8-9 among 400 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. The Honda poll was conducted Oct. 7-12 (just as absentee ballots were going out in the mail) among 500 likely voters with a margin of error of 4.4%.

Brown’s Slip Up Gives Neel a Small Opening

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Dad changing diaperJust when you thought the 2014 governor’s race was a done deal and that Jerry Brown had a lock on a fourth term, he has exposed an unexpected weakness that gives Republican Neel Kashkari a shot at a huge chunk of the vote: diaper-changing dads whom Brown has scorned.

It’s not an insignificant bloc of voters. Based on wild-ass guesstimates from our friends at the Field Poll and the Public Policy Institute of California — who have absolutely no responsibility for this number –the Calbuzz Bureau of Weights, Measures and Pampers estimates there could be 500,000 to 700,000 potential diaper dad voters out there, just waiting for that Kashkari mailer explaining how Gov. Brown has dissed them.

Brown in recent weeks repeatedly made national news by acting on landmark laws affecting high-profile matters from smart phones and sexual assault to gun control and plastic bags.

With much less ado, however, he brushed aside a more practical and down-to-earth concern of many average persons of the male persuasion: frazzled dads of the 1 million or so babies and toddlers who struggle with the day-to-day heartbreak of potty training.

With a swipe of his pen, Brown vetoed two bills, which passed the Legislature with near-unanimous support, to require businesses like restaurants and theaters to provide at least one diaper-changing table accessible to men.

jerrybrownlookupBrown’s grocery store scanner? The biggest knock on Brown, both political and personal, is that he’s spent his whole life in elected office, a highborn prince catered to by legions of acolytes and staffers, who’s never had to deal with the real world’s stresses. He erased any doubt about this with his rarefied veto message of the two bills, by Democratic senators Lois Wolk of Davis and Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens:

“At a time when so many have raised concerns about the number of regulations in California, I believe it would be more prudent to leave the matter of diaper changing stations to the private sector. Already, many businesses have taken steps to accommodate their customers in this regard.”

Yeah, right, governor, you tell a toddler carrying a full load to wait until the private sector gets around to providing a space for fathers to clean them up.

“Changing your baby on a bathroom floor is never fun and grosses me out,” posted one dad on a Reddit forum that drew 500 responses to Brown’s action. “I’ve actually gotten pretty decent at changing him while he stands because of the lack of changing stations in men’s restrooms though. I used to just go out to the car but that shouldn’t be the best option because then I have to go the restroom anyway to wash my hands.”

Memo to Jesuit Brown: Semper in excretia sumussolim profundum variat.

dunce-capIf it’s news, it’s news to us: We were entertaining at the summer place in Cote d’Azur when this news first hit our desk, but would betray our raison d’être if we failed belatedly to report that Sacramento is the least covered state capital in the nation.

That is one conclusion that may be drawn from a recent Pew Research Center study of the number of professional journalists covering state government. According to the study, while the number of statehouse reporters has declined steadily since at least 1998, it plummeted 35 percent in the past 10 years; today there are a total of 1,592 reporters covering the 50 state capitals.

With 43, California ranks second in the overall number of state reporters (to Texas, with 53) which works out to just 0.6 journalists per 500,000 residents, easily the worst in the U.S. Nationwide, the median percentage is 1.6 reporters per half-million residents, with small population states like Vermont (10.4), Alaska (5.6) and Wyoming not surprisingly leading the list.

As newspapers have withdrawn reporters from statehouses, others have attempted to fill the gap. For-profit and nonprofit digital news organizations, ideological outlets and high-priced publications aimed at insiders have popped up all over the country, often staffed by veteran reporters with experience covering state government. These nontraditional outlets employ 126 full-time statehouse reporters (17% of all full-time reporters). But that does not make up for the 164 newspaper statehouse jobs lost since 2003.

We name no names.

GimmeRewriteWe’ll always have car dealers: Speaking of moldy reports, we’ve just caught up with the Gallup poll’s ratings about the most and least ethical professions in America; as newspapers grow closer to extinction, and readers’ memories grow shorter, we’re delighted to note that print reporters have risen to only the 8th least trusted workers in the nation.

Goody-goody nurses and grade school teachers top the list, of course (but pharmacists? Seriously? Then what about bartenders?); proclaiming from the rooftops with the booming voice of nearly 100 years of ink-stained wretch service, however, we note that newspaper reporters totally skunk lawyers, TV reporters (with apologies to the Palm Spring Bureau), Mad Men, lawyers, state officeholders, lawyers, car salespeople, Members of Congress, lawyers, lobbyists, and lawyers.