The new Field Poll, testing whether voters are inclined or not to vote for various individuals for U.S. Senate, is most significant for one reason: as a demonstration that Republican former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice could be a strong contender if she got into the race.
Compared to the rest of the mentionables, Rice draws the most number of respondents who are inclined to vote for her – 49% — more than all the others, including one declared candidate, Attorney General Kamala Harris, who pulls 47%.
Most important, this far in advance of the election — and with absolutely no indication from Rice that she’s interested in running — is that while 74% of Republicans say they’re inclined to vote for her, so too are 31% of Democrats and 54% of independents.
Harris, likewise, draws inclinations for 74% of Democrats, but only 10% of Republicans and 42% of independents.
In other words, absent any kind of campaign, which surely would give her plenty of solid whacks, the former cornerstone of the Bush-Cheney-Rice triumvirate would appear to be in a strong position to seek a seat in the Senate from California.
A lot stronger than the more likely candidate – Democratic former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio “Tony V” Villaraigosa. Just 35% of voters are inclined to vote for him right now – 57% of Democrats, 12% of Republicans and 22% of independents.
Rice has told people that she is not interested in leaving her cushy job
as Provost at Stanford for a shot at the Senate. She’d face inevitable questions about her private life and, of course, there’s the small matter of being a, uh, war criminal; alas, she’d probably have to give up her dream of becoming NFL commissioner. And when push comes to party, she is still going to be a Republican in deep blue California.
Despite her disavowal of interest, it wouldn’t surprise us if Rice now gets some pressure from national Republicans to take a more serious look at running: stealing a safe Democratic seat in California would be a fantasy come true for the GOP, a big play that instantly would give the GOP a huge boost in its effort to re-establish relevance in the state.
More grist for that argument: for the moment, when no one has yet laid a glove on her, 52% of whites, 48% of Latinos, 51% of blacks and 38% of Asians all are inclined to vote for her. For Harris it’s 42% of whites, 52% of Latinos, 78% of blacks and 41% of Asians. And while Villaraigosa pulls interest from just 26% of whites, 60% of Latinos say they’re inclined to vote for him, 62% of blacks and 23% of Asians.
The Sacramento Bee posts all of the Field Poll crosstabs here, if you want to check out all the mentioned potential candidates.
In the interest of having a story to cover, Calbuzz now is also rooting for Rice, along with Tony V, to get in the race. Not that she’d make a particularly good U.S. Senator. But it would be a hell of a contest.