Archive for the ‘Tom Campbell’ Category



How Sacto Is Like Cairo: Why Difi Rivals Are Doomed

Monday, February 7th, 2011

One of the inherent strengths of local news operations, way too rarely exercised (see: newspapers, death of) is the daily opportunity to report how and why big global events matter to readers and viewers on the home front.

Tom Meyer, the blogosphere’s incarnation of  Thomas Nast, ofers a bit of this type of journalistic service with his latest take today, showing how the dramatic events in Egypt are a kind of real time Rorschach test which provide folks all along the political spectrum a chance to indulge in reassuring themselves, and insisting to others, that they’ve been right, right, right all along.

Underscoring the point, Frank Rich, the Pauline Kael of American politics, batted out a stinging indictment of the MSM this week, for its incessant braying of the clichéd claim that the crucial post hoc ergo propter hoc about the Egyptian populist revolt, which people there foolishly think is about their nation’s authoritarianism, economy and political corruption, is the role played in the events by…Twitter.

“Let’s get a reality check here,” said Jim Clancy, a CNN International anchor, who broke through the bloviation on Jan. 29 by noting that the biggest demonstrations to date occurred on a day when the Internet was down. “There wasn’t any Twitter. There wasn’t any Facebook,” he said. No less exasperated was another knowledgeable on-the-scene journalist, Richard Engel, who set the record straight on MSNBC in a satellite hook-up with Rachel Maddow. “This didn’t have anything to do with Twitter and Facebook,” he said. “This had to do with people’s dignity, people’s pride. People are not able to feed their families.”

“War,” Ambrose Pierce famously said, “is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” But it’s hard to escape the sad conclusion that the corporate organs of the MSM have failed to do much educating about events in the Mideast; those in search of more serious and substantial information could do worse than to check out the live streaming reportage of Al Jazeera’s English coverage.

Thanks to the cowardice of broadcast and cable executives everywhere, this news service currently is all but unavailable anywhere in the country, a state of affairs that the organization is trying to address with its February 10 “Meet-up to demand Al Jazeera on your TV,” an online campaign which,  paradoxically, mirrors the very demands for the free flow of ideas now being sounded in Egypt.

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Difi and the GOP: Since Calbuzz launched, our Department of Mission Statements and Corporate Branding Jive has churned out any number of cheesy memorable slogans in a pitiful attempt to justify our existence to help you, our loyal readers, understand who we are and what we do.

Shooting the Wounded,” of course, reflects the historical role of sofa-bound political writers and editorialists everywhere, while “Burning Our Bridges One at a Time,” reflects our own deep and abiding belief in the solemn constitutional responsibility of the press to hurl brickbats, cheap shots and childish insults wildly and randomly, without regard to race, creed, color, sexual orientation, partisan belief or political persuasion.

Another great ideal in which Our Founders believed deeply is this:  “Politics is the greatest spectator sport of all.”

So it was that we began trying to drum up interest in the 2012 Senate race before the ink was even dry on the statement of vote from the 2010 elections. In furtherance of this goal, we specifically have encouraged Republican gov race loser Meg Whitman to take a crack at venerable Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein next year.

Alas, however, our project has now been dealt a severe blow, with the release of a survey by Public Policy Polling that shows Feinstein crushing Whitman 55-35% in a simulated contest among voters – the same margin she holds over former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, who got stomped by Difi’s sister Senator-for-life, Barbara Boxer.

Other matchups: Feinstein over former Congressman Tom Campbell 51-37%; Herself over former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner 52-34%, and  Our Dianne smacking Darrell Issa (R-Car Alarm) by 54-33%, and crunching former Gov. Arnold Schwarzmuscle 59-25%.

(Weed whacking methodology alert) The only consolation for the potential GOP challengers (and for Calbuzz) is that PPP’s survey is an interactive voice response (IVR) poll, commonly known as a robopoll – in which a computer interacts with a respondent (like polls run by Survey USA and Rasmussen). And, heaven help us, Dean Debnam of PPP tells Calbuzz that their sample was taken from voter records (which would be fine if you were doing live calls and asking for that person) but the computer doesn’t know whether it’s interacting with the actual voter from the sample or someone else in the household. Sheesh.

Still, the numbers are of a consistency and magnitude that they’re likely to discourage potential GOP contenders pretty quickly, particularly those pondering the wisdom of tossing $1 billion or so large into a rat hole.

To which Calbuzz says: Take heart eMeg. After spending just shy of $180 million to lose the governor’s race, why not pop for a real survey and find out if you’d have any shot against Queen Mum?

Because. let’s face it, this whole in-between-elections, public policy thing ain’t much except a guaranteed cure for insomnia, and we’d be willing to pay to cover a cage match between you and Difi. We’d even give you a second chance to go to dinner with us.

Reagan Agonistes: Amid the orgy of commentary and political posturing accompanying the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, here’s the half-dozen items atop our recommended reading list:

1-Most intriguing op-ed was penned for the Orange County Register under the byline of the aforementioned Difi . We’re not sure we buy her argument that RR’s greatest strength was his “bipartisanship,” but she’s been going on about the importance of “governing from the center” for four decades, so you’ve at least got to hand it to her for consistency.

2- The most authoritative source on all things Reagan remains the canon of  Lou Cannon, who started covering him as a Sacto correspondent for the San Jose Mercury News.

3-Best quickly assembled, 60-second guide to memorable Reagan quotes is found over at Huffpost.

4-Most interesting observations on what made Reagan a first-rate politician come from Ken Khachigian, who turned in a workmanlike job of first person reporting about the great man’s speechifying tradecraft. (H/T Flashreport).

5-Most stomach-churning self-serving effort to identify with Reagan comes from, who else, Sarah Palin. Sorry, Lady Sled Dog, “we’re on the road to ruin,” is just about as far from his politics as it’s possible to be.

6-Best single quote comes from Richard Reeves, via Joel Fox“Ronald Reagan is still president,” he said, meaning the country is living with a political philosophy set out by Reagan. True, true, true, unfortunately.

Bonus read on Reagan: ThinkProgress has a little gem of a piece that will set conservatives’ hair on fire, including factoids on Reagan’s record as a serial tax-raiser.

2012 Opener: Why eMeg Should Take On HRH DiFi

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Senator Dianne Feinstein is normally the most coy and flirtatious of politicians, famously performing the Dance of the Seven Veils whenever some rumpled reporter asks if she’s planning to run in some future election.

So it spoke volumes when California’s Queen Mum stomped all over a campaign event for colleague Barbara Boxer a few days before last week’s election to shout from the rooftops that she, The Great and Wondrous Difi, would — da-da-da-daah — be running to keep her precious seat in 2012.

It’s clearly a sign of the times, as incumbent Democratic Senators become more endangered than snowy plovers, that the professionally neurotic Dianne is evincing more political anxiety than usual. And it’s telling that the first trial balloon about the race took flight just one day after the election, as Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner felt compelled to issue an aw-shucks non-denial denial about a (heaven help us) Twitter message pimping his chances as the anti-Dianne.

As California Republicans proved anew last week that they ain’t exactly deep off the bench with contenders, the Calbuzz Department of Prognostication, Dowsing and Divining Rods prepared a first, long-off gaze at the GOP Senate field. And it looks now that there’s one, and only one, possible answer for the Party of Lincoln. Here’s the early line:

Steve Poizner – The Commish was one of our first and most loyal advertisers, so it pains us to say that the crazed lunge to the right on immigration issues by this previously perfectly rational Republican moderate during the primary made us question the scruples, if not the sanity, of our old friend. John Seymour long ago proved the folly of a garden variety right-winger challenging Dianne, and Poizner himself showed against Meg that he can’t match up in the paint with a big woman who towers over him. Candidate Rank: 4.

Orly Taitz – The Birther Movement whack job , who’s never categorically denied she’s a space alien, has kept a low profile since delivering heart palpitations to establishment Republican types by making a run at the party’s nomination for Secretary of State in the June primary. But in the current atmosphere of right-wing madness and all-around political weirdness, who better to make the GOP case for incoherent, conspiracy-based, constitutional creationist Palinism? Perhaps the California Republicans, still nursing the wounds of being hit by a bus, could warm to an authentic Mama Grizzly?  Candidate Rank: 2.

Carly Fiorina – A slightly more moderate version of Orly Taitz (same hair salon?), the former robber baron CEO of Hewlett-Packard lost a squeaker big time to Sen. Barbara Boxer, despite iCarly’s innovative platform calling for debtor prisons, the death penalty for abortion docs and open carry laws for assault rifles on airliners. While Californians came to love her rare combination of mean-spirited condescension and patronizing arrogance, word is Hurricane Carly is eying a move to Idaho, where she’ll feel politically more at home. Candidate Rank: 5.

Darrell Issa - One of the more widely-respected car alarm magnates south of the Tehachapis, Issa has already played an outsized role in California politics by financing the 2003 recall of Gray Davis and getting beat by, um, Matt Fong, in his one try at a statewide GOP nomination. Now, however, he’s positioned to grab national headlines in his role as a White House-investigating demagogue House committee chairman; who knows how popular he can become once he waterboards David Axelrod in public?  It’s not like anybody’s going to bring up his sketchy Army record or the stolen Dodge,  Maserati and Mercedes. Or the hidden handgun, either. Candidate Rank: 3.

Tom Campbell – A moderate Republican who…oh, never mind. Candidate Rank: 6.

Meg Whitman – Sure, she’s feeling beat up, bruised and unappreciated right now, but don’t forget it was none other than Dianne Feinstein her ownself who showed that before you can get elected to the U.S. Senate, you have to run for governor and lose. Dianne paved the way, winning her Senate seat  just two years after a bitter defeat to Pete Wilson in 1990. If she’s got the heart, eMeg could trace a similar political career path and keep hope alive for her dream of becoming the first woman president.

Seasoned and toughened by a brutal statewide race, she needs to find a high-profile perch at a think tank, private charity or public policy-oriented non-profit shop to keep her hand in the game, secure in knowing that the character issues which tripped her up this year – Goldman Sachs, sweetheart IPOs and her treatment of her illegal housekeeper, for starters – will be old news by the time 2012 rolls around.

Time to start spending some of that Whitman/Harsh foundation money on something other than protection of the valley floor around her Skyline Ranch in Telluride. Memo to Meg: a) Don’t forget to invite the press corps along when you go to vote next year. b) Go to dinner with Calbuzz this time and (here’s two words we bet you seldom hear) – we’ll pay.

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, Calbuzz acknowledges that we get a thrill up our leg at the image of Dick Blum choking on his wallet when DiFi announces she’ll need 150 Large for the re-elect. Candidate Rank: 1

This Week’s Standings
1-Meg Whitman
2-Orly Taitz
3-Darrell Issa
4-Steve Poizner
5-Carly Fiorina
6-Tom Campbell

Field Poll: Right-Wingers Helping eMeg Crush Poiz

Friday, June 4th, 2010

The Field Poll released today further demonstrates how Meg Whitman put herself in position to claim the Republican nomination for governor on Tuesday: By making herself more popular than Steve Poizner among the strong conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts he aggressively courted – key players in the GOP nominating process but marginal, perhaps even detrimental to her in the general election.

Whitman enters the final weekend before Tuesday’s vote with a commanding 51-25% lead over Poizner, according to the non-partisan Field Poll. Poizner has cut Whitman’s lead to 26% compared to 49% in March (63-14%) to. But that’s still a landslide win for Whitman, who will, compared to Poizner, have spent three times the money to win twice the vote.

What may be worrisome for Team eMeg is that in the process of trashing Poizner – and Calbuzz really does not get why Whitman went up at the end with a new shoot-the-lifeboats ad against Poizner – Whitman’s unfavorable rating among Republicans rose 8 percentage points, although she does end the primary campaign with positive marks – 62-24% – at least among the GOP.

Unlike the PPIC poll released last week, the Field Poll did not immediately release all of its data, including the candidates’ favorability ratings across party lines which – as Calbuzz noted the other day – suggest that Whitman is on her way to winning the nomination at the cost of making herself unacceptable to independents, moderates and other swing voters.

Meanwhile, Capitol Weekly and Probolsky Research  released a tracking poll showing Whitman leading Poizner 54-24% and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina leading former Congressman Tom Campbell 40-25% in the GOP contest for U.S. Senate.

Virtually every poll in the last week or so has found that while Poizner may have gotten close to Whitman in the middle of May, he failed to close the gap and she poured enough money into television and other campaign media to pull away from him.

The Field Poll, for example, showed that Poizner drove up Whitman’s negative ratings among Republican voters, from 16% in March to 24% by the end of May. And Poizner even increased his own favorable rating by a whopping 20 points – from 20% in March to 40% by early June.

But Poizner’s unfavorable rating also inched up – to 39% from 34% in March. In other words, of the eight in 10 GOP voters who have any opinion about him, about half view him favorably and half unfavorably. Having one’s own party split 50-50 on whether they even like you, does not a candidate make.

Whitman, meanwhile, has cemented her impression among Republicans and by a 3-1 ratio GOP voters believe she has a better chance of defeating Jerry Brown, the certain Democratic nominee, in November.

Whitman beats Poizner 52-26% among strong conservatives compared to 49-25% among all others and she wins 55-25% among Tea Party identifiers and 48-25% among all others. In other words, Whitman has beaten Poizner at his own game – trying to be the right-wing candidate in the race.

The question now is this: Having established her bona fides with the knuckle-dragging wing of the California Republican Party, can she credibly appeal to the moderates and independents who are the key to statewide elections in California?

The Field Poll surveyed 511 likely voters May 27-June 2, including registered Republicans and non-partisans who had already cast absentee ballots. Because the Field Poll has refused to allow Calbuzz to become a paid subscriber, Calbuzz had to obtain the survey results by other means.

Press Clips: Timm Herdt throws the flag on Das Williams over-the-line move against Susan Jordan in the fiercely fought 35th Assembly District Democratic primary, where Williams’s guy totally doctors a photograph to make Jordan look bad, and then defends it as just another day at the office:

“We took our poetic license with that,” said Josh Pulliam, strategist for the Williams campaign. “It’s a physical manifestation of what she probably looked like at the location.”

OK, so Calbuzz doesn’t exactly have the high ground in complaining about photoshopped images, but seriously, a champagne flute? Next up: Das puts a turban on Susan’s head, a grenade in one hand, an AK-47 in the other and wonders what all the fuss is about.

Michael Rothfeld channels Don Meredith: “Turn out the lights, the party’s over”…Tom Friedman used to be a helluva’ reporter so it’s sad to watch him turn into a parody of himself, as he did in using the first person pronoun 13 times while declaring sovereignty for the nation of Friedlandia in his column on Israel’s Gaza flotilla attack…Best take to date on digging into Jerry Brown’s papers from his first stint as governor comes from SacBee’s  Marje Lundstrom, who teased out a terrific yarn about the political triangle of Jerry, father Pat and erstwhile chief of staff Gray Davis.

Why Newsweek is failing: 3,359 words, 7 bylines and not a single new fact…Why Newsweek is failing II: the insufferable Jon Meacham…Best evidence of why California needs a split roll property tax system comes from part-time Timesman Dan Weintraub…Nifty analysis by Robert Reich, the Barbara Boxer-sized former Secretary of Labor, shows  how America’s great new wave of entrepreneurship is really just a bunch of despairing unemployed Boomers.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Who had a worse week – Kendry Morales or Jim Joyce? You be the judge.

Q&A with Mickey; Babs v Carly; Team Krusty Forming

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

The best thing about Mickey Kaus’s hopeless bid for the U.S. Senate is that he’s the only candidate we’ve ever met who talks down expectations about his own chances. A contrarian counterintuitive (reverse those words? -ed.) Mr. Crankypants Kaus is a pioneering practitioner of online political journalism who is breaking new ground — the first Californian ever to carry the ballot designation of “blogger.” Seeing a cheap opportunity to squeeze into the footnotes of media history books, Calbuzz asked him five questions about his primary challenge to Barbara Boxer

1. What’s the over-under on your final percentage of the vote in the Dem primary?

My friend Jill Stewart of L.A. Weekly bet a friend dinner that I wouldn’t top 5%. But I don’t want to set expectations that high. I’d say anything over 3% is a startling rebuke of Barbara Boxer’s lockstep Democratic orthodoxy. Every vote for me makes that point. I don’t have to win to win.

2. What’s your beef with public employees getting good benefits and pensions?

I have no beef with good benefits and pensions. But, as Willie Brown said, the deal was always that public employees traded a bit of pay for security. Now they have the security plus more pay than the private sector. Many can retire in their 50s at more than they made working.  We need to restore a balance and not just spend more and more tax money on the same employees while cutting service to the public. Democrats are the party of government–we’re the ones who need to make it work at a price we can afford.

3. As a Senator, what specific steps would you push for the government to “secure the border”? Finish the dang fence?

Yes, I’d build the actual, physical fence–not the failed “virtual” fence promoted by those who opposed a physical fence. Physical fences work. We also need a) wide adoption of a system for verifying the legal status of new hires; b) stiff sanctions against employers who skirt the law; c) a system for tracking visa overstays; d) greater avenues for legal immigration, including immigration from Mexico. And we need to stop talking about amnesty until we’re sure all these things work.

4. It is alleged you believe that the Democratic Party is in the thrall of labor unions. How do you respond?

Guilty as charged. Every reporter I’ve talked to thinks the unions basically own the state party. That’s why we don’t get Obama’s “race-to-the-top” education money — teachers’ unions block reform. It’s why pension costs are threatening to bankrupt us. It’s why we bailed out the UAW without asking much sacrifice, and why the party still pursues the doomed, unpopular, bad idea of letting unions organize a workplace without a secret ballot.

5. You bear a heavy responsibility as the first person in California history to carry the ballot label of “blogger.” Has running for office been everything you dreamed?

I’ll have a better perspective on June 9. The idea was to make a point, not have a great time. It’s been hard work with some big rewards. I’ve been treated fairly, so far, by all sorts of people I was worried would be underhanded. Every time I talk to actual voters, it’s been great — especially voters who argue back. Starting arguments is the idea. I learn every day, even from the annoying ”friends” who say “you’re doing this all wrong.” Mass rallies with thousands cheering … well, they haven’t really happened for anyone, have they? There’s a week left! I’m not peaking too soon.

These two teams just don’t like each other: With Tom Campbell’s campaign apparently collapsing near the finish line, GOP Senate front-runner Carly Fiorina decided to jump start the general election race Tuesday.

Hurricane Carly threw a quick right elbow with the e-blast release of a TV ad attacking Senator Barbara Boxer as soft on terrorism; just 57 minutes later, however, Team Babs hit back with a tough 2,082 word rapid response bashing Fiorina over a host of issues, including one of our personal favorites, Hewlett Packard’s controversial third-party sales to Iran during her tenure as CEO.

Cowardly Fiorina handlers refused to provide details of their purported ad buy, which they claimed was “significant and statewide.” The spot features Carly, full face to the camera, mocking a brief 2007 news clip of Boxer saying that climate change is “one of the very important national security issues we face.”

“Terrorism kills and Barbara Boxer’s worried about the weather?” sez Carly.

Not a bad line, but as Boxer World quickly noted, the CIA last fall set up a center to investigate the interlocking problems of global warming and political instability around the world, a concern sounded publicly by a pack of military, national security and spook types.

“Fiorina obviously isn’t aware that in October 2009, the CIA established a Center for the Study of Climate Change and National Security,” sniffed Boxer, in her tome-sized counter-punch.

Woo hoo! Only 153 days until the election!

Dudley still doomed: As for Campbell, the favored candidate of editorial boards everywhere, we forecast two weeks ago that the combination of Fiorina’s late-breaking move to the wallet, and the host of independent expenditure attacks he was enduring, would position Carly to crack it open down the stretch.

With the new L.A. Times poll showing she apparently has done just that, it looks like Campbell’s chronically anemic fund-raising has now gone on total life support, as he pulled all his final week TV ads and announced his determination to win the campaign with phone calls and email. Good luck with that.

UPDATE 6 AM Thursday: Politico says Campbell is going back on the air with an ad that makes his best argument: That only he among the GOP candidates for Senate, can actually beat Barbara Boxer. We’ll see how much money Dudley has scraped together to make the case on TV. He’d need a few million, at least, we suspect.

United Front for Brown Forming: California Working Families 2010 — the pro-Jerry Brown independent group that already includes the California Professional Firefighters, the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, SEIU California State Council, the Professional Engineers in California Government — today is expected to announce that they’re being joined by the Democratic Governors Association and its California Accountability Project.

That puts Emily DeRose of the DGA on the field for Brown, along with CAWF’s Roger Salazar. Level the Playing Field, with the likes of Ace Smith and Chris Lehane,  also has been active in the pro-Jerry-anti-Meg universe> But it’s beginning to look like CAWF is the Big Dog.

Of course, we don’t know yet what heaters like the California Teachers Association and California Correctional Peace Officers Association plan to do in the governor’s race. If anything.

eMeg to Calbuzz: Big Mo Moving Back to Me

Friday, May 21st, 2010

In a stunning and sudden display of accessibility, Republican front-runner Meg Whitman sat down for a 10-minute interview with Calbuzz Thursday, saying she can “feel the momentum” moving back to her campaign for governor despite a new poll showing the race in single digits.

eMeg sat on the edge of a stage in the auditorium of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, where she had just held a town hall meeting with about 75 local residents, and answered questions about the budget, immigration, offshore drilling, taxes and the campaign: fueled by Red Bull and uncertain when we’d get another chance at her, we were talking as fast as we could.

Asked about the new PPIC poll, which shows that GOP rival Steve Poizner has slashed her once massive lead, Whitman laughed at our suggestion that she’s spent an awful lot of dough for a nine-point edge:

“So you’re nine points up – you think you got your money’s worth for $68 million?” Calbuzz asked.

“Well. We are ahead and I knew the polls would close and I can feel the momentum beginning to shift back my way on the campaign trail…”

eMeg’s reaction reflects the campaign’s internal view that, after the race with Poizner got extremely close about 10 days ago, she’s since been pulling back ahead. Strategists say that the 38-29% edge that PPIC pollster Mark Baldassare reported Wednesday that she holds over Poizner is a snapshot of a dynamic situation, and that their latest TV ads pushing back  on attacks by the Commish already have re-established a double digit lead.

“There’ve been a lot of attacks, a lot of stuff,” the candidate said, “but I think I feel the momentum coming back.”

At the end of the interview, our South Central Coast Bureau Chief solemnly presented eMeg with a limited edition copy of the world-famous Calbuzz button, featuring the red-haired guy with his finger in the socket. Closely examining the rare objet d’art, she immediately demonstrated  the financial savvy and eye for the main chance that shaped her career as a successful business executive:

“ I wonder what this would go for on eBay?” she said. “Maybe if you signed it? You sign it, and we’ll put it up on eBay and…put the money in the campaign coffers.”

Now that we got the horse race stuff out of the way, Calbuzz will publish the wonky, issue stuff from our eMeg interview tomorrow, including a few surprises. The post goes up at 12:01 a.m. for those who just can’t wait until morning.

(PS: David K. Yamamoto took that photo for the Ventura County Star, at an event in Camarillo before eMeg’s appearance in Santa Barbara).

Beginning of the end or end of the beginning? The other day we bashed a poll, done by M4 Strategies and sponsored by Joel Fox’s Small Business Action Committee, that showed Meg Whitman 17 points ahead of Steve Poizner, saying the thing would be debunked  if the new PPIC survey showed the Commish within single digits of eMeg.

Lo and behold , PPIC showed exactly that but, far from slinking into his cave, the estimable Fox promptly doubled down on his survey.

Echoing arguments feverishly made by Whitman strategist Mike Murphy, Fox argues the  timing, sample size, margin and results of his SBAC/M4 survey have it all over that produced by polling guru Mark Baldassare.

SBAC/M4 may be measuring a momentum shift in the race.

What strengthens the momentum argument are the daily returns gathered by the M4 poll. Chris St. Hilaire, who oversees the poll for M4 Strategies, points out that Whitman gained strength over the course of the poll. The first day of the poll, Whitman’s lead was the same as what PPIC had at 9-percent. Her lead grew a couple of points the next day and after the two day layoff, when the poll resumed on Sunday, May 16, she gained an additional 5-percent.

We’re not going to get all technical here, but a few points: the number of completed surveys on the second (175) and third (151) night of calling was considerably lower than the first night (274). Moreover, it’s unlikely that each night was its own random sample of the whole GOP voter file. And even if it was, the margins of error for each night individually would be very large.

PPIC didn’t push voters for how they were leaning; M4 did. Meg’s margin in the M4 survey among those who said they were “definitely” voting for her: 9%. That wasn’t good spin, however, so the only number put out was the number that included those who said they would “probably vote” for each candidate and those “leaning” for each contender. That’s where they got the 49-32% with just 17% undecided.

There’s also some problems with the distribution of the sample in the M4 survey. Just a few examples: too few voters in the Central Valley and Inland Empire; too many in the North Coast/Sierra and Bay Area counties.

The M4 poll also found Tom Campbell still ahead of Carly Fiorina (33-28%)  in the U.S. Senate race — another discrepancy with PPIC which had Fiorina with a slight lead.

We could go on, but suffice it to say there are valid reasons why it makes sense to take partisan polls with a grain of salt. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong. In fact, Whitman may indeed have moved up since PPIC finished its survey on Sunday. We’re hearing that from Democratic pollsters, too. But we can bank on the non-partisan, open-source polls and the others — well, you gotta be careful how you use ‘em. (We do give major props to Fox’s pollsters, however, for answering every question we put to them.)

Dudley doomed? Given the volatile political atmosphere of 2010 , reflected most recently by Tuesday’s special elections in Arkansas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, making any bets on California’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate is a fool’s errand.

In fact, we could make the case for any of the entrants in the three-way brawl — not least of whom is Chuck DeVore, the only guy who’s showing any movement and who just got a big fist bump from conservative blogstar Erick Erickson calling on Hurricane Carly Fiorina to quit the race  in favor of the Big Fella.

If some Second Amendment purist held a gun to our head, however, we’d have to put our money down on Fiorina, the only one who appears to have enough cash for a TV blitz that could crack the race open in the stretch. Besides the first-I-look-at-the-purse factor, her neck-and-neck rival Tom Campbell looks in danger of being pecked to death by ducks, as he ducks and covers factional attacks from the hard right wing of the GOP, on issues from abortion to taxes.

Latest dis comes from the National Rifle Association, which did a statewide postcard mailing urging its members to vote against Campbell. Sez the By God LAT politics blog:

The bright orange postcard, which went out over the weekend, faults Campbell for favoring gun show regulations, a waiting period for handgun purchases and restrictions on the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons.

As a matter of campaign messaging, we’re not sure what’s worse, that Campbell is trying to explain his positions on these issues with actual facts, complexity and nuance, or that he’s doing it via email. We do know that the desert of California politics is littered with the bleached white bones of those who got blasted by the NRA (see Bradley, Governor Tom).

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Laissez les bons temps rouler!