Archive for the ‘California Politics’ Category

LA Times/USC “Daybreak Poll” Dishonors the Paper

Friday, October 21st, 2016

badpollingDespite Nate Silver’s argument that we should leave the LA Times/USC Dornsife “Daybreak Poll” alone, this poor excuse for a survey has been so wrong so persistently – and has been so constantly cited by Donald Trump as evidence of his campaign success – that it’s time for the Calbuzz Green Eye Shade Division to call them to task.

We’d be tempted to accept Silver’s admonition that all you have to do is add 6 percentage points to Hillary Clinton’s standing in the survey to accommodate for its “house effect,” except for the fact that the survey continues to arrogantly insist that “This chart tracks our best estimate, over time, of how America plans to vote in November.”

frustrated_man2World class flapdoodle So we’re sorry to say that our old friends David Lauter of the LA Times and Dan Schnur of USC will forever have to take responsibility* for the single most reckless name-brand survey of the 2016 election season. Even if they succumb to pressure from the polling world and re-weight their flawed sample in the coming weeks so that they end up in the ballpark (like Survey USA usually does), they will have overseen an entire season of faulty, misleading polling that has misinformed the public and given Trump false bragging rights and his allies false hope.

As of Wednesday, when most national polls by reputable organizations were showing Clinton leading Trump by 4 to 11 percentage points, the screwball LA Times/ USC Dornsife “daybreak” survey showed Clinton and Trump tied at 44% — after weeks of showing Trump leading Clinton by significant margins.

garbageinoutGarbage in... Why? Because they started with a faulty, pro-Trump panel of internet respondents, weighted their reported 2012 vote for president and then stuck with that panel as part of their methodology. Garbage at the start; garbage all throughout.

“What’s the source of the LA Times poll’s Trump lean?” Silver wrote. “There are good ‘explainers’ from The New York Times’s Nate Cohn and Huffington Post Pollster’s David Rothschild. Long story short: The poll’s results are weighted based on how people said they voted in 2012. That’s probably a mistake, because people often misstate or misremember their vote from previous elections.

Here’s their graph:uscdornsife

Interestingly, the LA Times so did not believe its survey that coverage, by most of its fine political writers, has paid it no mind.

On Wednesday, Lauter himself tried to hide his paper’s miserable poll’s findings – a tied race — with a front-page story that focused on survey respondents’ expectations of who will win the race instead of their stated voter preference.

“More and more, his own supporters no longer think he can win, the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak poll has found,” Lauter wrote.

lauterHide the turkey. Except that this was not a new finding at all. The survey’s respondents had consistently said they thought Clinton would win the race – with even larger proportions predicting her victory back in August. The story gave the Times an opportunity to use its miserable survey as a way to convey to readers the paper’s conviction that Clinton is actually leading Trump.

“The Daybreak poll asks people whom they plan to vote for and which candidate they expect will win,” Lauter wrote. “The question of voter expectations has often, although not always, proved to be a more reliable forecaster of election outcomes than asking voters their candidate preference.”

This is, on its face, an absurd argument. First of all, how would the Times know that asking voter expectations is “a more reliable forecaster of election outcomes” until they know what the outcome is? By comparing this question in their survey to other national polls? Second, why are they asking voter preference if they think it’s an inferior measure of election outcomes – which their own statement on the survey about their “best estimate” flatly contradicts?

This is a sneaky way to mask the findings of their flawed survey.

bullshitPiling it on. Then, on Thursday, Lauter wrote about how the poll stands up if it is re-weighted to discount USC’s original weighting for who candidates said they had voted for in 2012 — which was a dumb idea from the get-go. This is exactly the kind of legerdemain that Survey USA and other sleazy operations use to make their final polls look legit.

The re-weighting, by Ernie Tedeschi, an economist formerly with the Treasury Department, “provides reassurance that although the poll differs from other surveys, its data about the trends in the election — the ups and downs in support for the two candidates — are consistent with what others have found,” Lauter wrote.

Oy. It was a bad poll design. USC and the LA Times are stuck with it.

* Lauter and Schnur get responsibility, but here’s how Lauter (LA Times Washington Bureau Chief) explained the origin of the survey in an email to us:

“The researchers at USC’s Center for Economic and Social Research https://cesr.usc.edu/, led by Prof. Arie Kapteyn, developed the poll. They based it on a very similar survey they did four years ago when they were at the RAND Corp. (That 2012 poll was one of the most accurate of the election year and the only major survey not to underestimate Obama’s margin). Dan introduced Arie’s team to those of us at The Times, and we were (and are) very happy to partner with them to publish the results.”

When we asked Schnur (director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, USC Dornsife College) if he is responsible for his organization’s survey, he replied: “Jill Darling is the Survey Director for the Center for Economic and Social Research. I’m sure she’ll be happy to answer your questions. She can be reached at: jilldarl@usc.edu

Clinton Speaks to Voters; Trump Rejects Democracy

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

hillaryandtrumpTwo things that matter happened in the third and final presidential debate: 1) Hillary Clinton spoke directly to the concerns of suburban women on choice and guns and to Latinos on immigration and 2) Donald Trump refused to say he would accept the results of the election, proving that he is fundamentally not an American.

Clinton’s arguments, in favor of choice on abortion rights, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and common-sense gun control, all should help her among the voters in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and other states where her positions are in sync with mainstream views and she is expanding her lead among women and Latinos.

trump3rddebateBut the jaw-dropping moment of the debate was Dirty Donald’s response to moderator Chris Wallace’s question whether he would accept the result of the election.

“I will look at it at the time,” he first said.

“But sir,” Wallace came back. “there is a tradition in this country, in fact one of the prides of this country, is the peaceful transition of power, and that no matter how hard fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign, that the loser concedes to the winner… and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying that you are not prepared now to commit to that principle?”

“What I’m saying now is I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense, okay?” said the New York Narcissist.

This was such an extraordinary comment, so outside of the bounds of American civic theology, that the audience gasped and Trump seemed not to recognize that he had assaulted the most fundamental tenet of Western democracy.

steveschmidtRepublican Recoil. “It’s a disqualifying moment,” Republican Steve Schmidt said on MSNBC. “It’s a moment of clear and present danger to our constitutional order, to the republic, it’s unprecedented in the history of the country.”

Moreover, Schmidt deadpanned, Trump was so incoherent discussing Mosul, he sounded “like an old man in the park feeding squirrels.”

There were plenty of other memorable moments, not the least of which was Trump’s unraveling to the point where he snapped “such a nasty woman” Clinton is (for suggesting he’d find a way to avoid paying higher payroll taxes to save Social Security). Within moments, nastywomengetshitdone.com was slapped up on the web with a link to Clinton fundraising. Trump’s reference to “bad hombres” he’d deport set off a firestorm of Latino outrage on Twitter. And twice Clinton tweaked Trump for using Chinese steel to built his Las Vegas Hotel. His defense? You should have stopped me!

Considering the bar was so low, Trump wasn’t as terrible as he has been previously, although he was a long way from changing the direction of the race by attracting any voters outside his right-wing base. Whatever good Trump might have done for himself among his Neanderthal and white evangelical backers, with his stands on abortion, immigration and gun control), he blew himself to smithereens with his expressed disloyalty to American constitutional government.

Given the status of the presidential race, the only question was whether Putin’s Puppet drove his own numbers down even further than were evident in the Fox News survey released before the debate. In that survey, only 35% of voters said Trump has the temperament to be president (compared to 61% for Clinton); just 37% of voters said Trump has the judgment to be president (compared to 53% for Clinton), and by a margin of 57-to-32%, voters said they trust Clinton’s prudence in handling nuclear weapons.

Our best guess: after Wednesday’s debate, the percentage of voters who say Trump is qualified to be president will drop to about 30%.

Such a nasty man.

Why Trump Can’t Win: Educated Women Hate Him

Monday, October 17th, 2016

angrytrumpDonald Trump’s narcissistic personality disorder has been so thoroughly documented that we need not repeat the discussion again except to note that it means that he takes every slight, every critique, every abandonment as a personal, existential threat that demands he strike back in the most unhinged venomous terms. Which is what he has done every time in what psychoanalysts call “narcissistic rage.”

But in the wake of the “Access Hollywood” tapes in which he boasts of forcibly kissing women and grabbing them by the “pussy,” and the clutch of women who have since come forward with personal tales of sexually predatory behavior by Dirty Donald, it now is clear that Trump has a dual diagnosis:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Paraphilic Disorder.

The latter applies where people “have a sexual desire or behavior that involves another person’s psychological distress, injury, or death, or a desire for sexual behaviors involving unwilling persons or persons unable to give legal consent.”

hackenflackmugOr as Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, Calbuzz’s esteemed psychiatric consultant, put it: “Donald Trump not only displays all the behaviors of an extreme narcissist, but he is also a sexual predator who has imposed himself on unwilling women. Hence, we must conclude a dual diagnosis: Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Paraphilic Disorder.”

What woman don’t want. All of which explains why women throughout America and even many men have turned even further against Trump, especially in key battleground states. (See Nate Silver.)

disgusted-woman-rejecting-a-dateFirst, however, let’s understand one, paradoxical, dynamic which further benefits Clinton, but which Hands On Donald has been banking on: the widespread sentiment that the country is headed in the wrong direction, traditionally a marker for an electoral cry for change.

President Barack Obama’s average approval in the past month according to the Polling Report is 53.7% and his disapproval is 43%. His high mark is 56% and his low mark is 38%. These are terrific numbers for Clinton, Obama’s endorsed successor and former Secretary of State,  whose top campaign surrogates are not only Barack his own self, but also the brilliant and popular Michelle Obama for whom a Clinton victory will extend their legacy.

What creates confusion, however, is that the Right Track/Wrong Track average in that same period it is 25.6% right track compared to 72.6% wrong track. A clear measure of dissatisfaction with where the country is headed.

A couple of points to clarify the apparent contradiction.

1. Political and statistical analysts believe whom voters blame for the direction of the country is baked into the presidential approval rating – average 54-43% favorable for Obama.

2. While right track-wrong track can be useful, it has built into it those who approve of the direction the president and his party are heading and those who disapprove of the role of the opposition party that is obstructing the president and his party. In other words, a Democrat who approves of Obama but is unhappy with how Congress has obstructed him, might be just as likely to say the country is on the wrong track as a Republican who believes the president and his party are pushing the country in the wrong direction.

What the record shows. Still, a wrong track number like we’re seeing  would generally spell trouble – as it has historically – for a candidate from the same party seeking the presidency after eight years of that party’s incumbency.

Here’s the record:


So the historical odds are stacked against Clinton. After two terms of one party or the other in power, American voters have generally sought a change. That she is ahead nationally — at all — is remarkable.

Moreover, the average percentage of the vote of the winning candidate since 1824 – when we started electing presidents by a vote of the people – is 51.36%. We have always been an evenly divided nation, even though in various elections one candidate or another has won the presidency with a landslide in the electoral college.

Why is Clinton leading Trump at all? That’s the real question. Especially when she has been the object of 25 years of negative propaganda – literally accused of everything from murder to treason – designed to undermine public confidence in her character.

What is new are recent survey results demonstrating the full scope of how Trump’s candid pornographic pronouncements have altered the race, just over three weeks before the November 8 election, largely because he has alienated women voters:

• Popular vote: The first major national poll taken after the hot-mic revelations, published by the Wall Street Journal, showed Clinton cracking open what had been a close race, taking an 11-point lead (46-35%) in a four-way race including the Libertarian and Green Party candidates; in a head-to-head match-up with Trump, she leads 52-38%.

“Looking inside the numbers of the two-way horse race, Clinton holds a 20-point lead among female voters (55 percent to 35 percent), while Trump is ahead among men by just three points (48 percent to 45 percent),” wrote NBC’s Mark Murray.

• Electoral College: A Marist survey in Pennsylvania, which is crucial to any Trump hope of winning the Electoral College, shows Clinton ahead by 12 points, fueled by a massive 53-33% lead among likely women voters; in Florida, which Trump must win to capture the presidency, she has regained a narrow lead, because women voters now support her by 13 points, 51 to 38 percent.

• Key demographics: An NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll immediately after the debate showed that the pivotal group of white, college-educated women, by a 66-13% ratio, said that Clinton beat Trump; more ominously for Republicans, 80 percent of women registered as nonpartisan independents said Trump does not have the personality and temperament to be president.


Trump tearing apart his teleprompter — why not?

Fun with numbers. Because Clin­ton stomps Trump among minority voters, he needs to win a huge margin — some estimates put it as high as 70 percent — among whites. Although he still leads among white men, his dwindling support among white women is, to use one of his favorite phrases, a disaster.

In 2012, President Obama beat Mitt Romney by four points, 51-47%, in the popular vote (resulting in a 332 to 206 Electoral College landslide), because he won women by 11 points, according to exit polls that year.

Romney, however, won among married women, and came close to the White House because he carried white women with a college degree by six points (52-46%), according to research by the Monmouth University Polling Institute. According to Monmouth, however, Trump already was losing that group to Clinton last summer by 30 points (27-57%).

That, of course, not only was before the sex-talk tape, his mansplaining performances in two debates and his bizarre and much-publicized tweet war against beauty queen Alicia Machado over her weight, but also the almost daily revelations of Trump’s crotch-grabbing record.

“These are fatal numbers,” NBC polling analyst Steve Kornacki said about Trump’s low standing among women.

“It seems fair to say that, if Trump loses the election, it will be because women voted against him,” Nate Silver wrote recently. “ I took a look at how men and women split their votes four years ago, according to polls conducted in November 2012. On average, Mitt Romney led President Obama by 7 percentage points among men, about the same as Trump’s 5-point lead among men now. But Romney held his own among women, losing them by 8 points, whereas they’re going against Trump by 15 points.”

Bottom Line: Donald Trump’s narcissism and predatory behavior have so disgusted women voters that a landslide Electoral College win for Hillary Clinton now appears a distinct possibility — even if she only wins the popular vote by a few points.

grabLate breaking counterfactual. That said, a national survey by Gary Langer, one of the best and brightest in the polling business, for ABC and the Washington Post, on Sunday showed Clinton with a nationwide lead over Trump still at 4 percentage points, 47-43%, with some undecideds and votes for the two other minor candidates.

“The findings are somewhat better for Trump than other polls taken since the video, but if Clinton were to maintain such an advantage until Election Day, that could translate into a sizable electoral college majority,” the Post wrote.

“Nearly 7 in 10 respondents believe Trump probably made unwanted sexual advances, and a majority say his apology for boasts about forcing himself on women on a hot-mic videotape was insincere. Nonetheless, the controversy appeared to have had only a minimal impact on his overall support,” wrote Dan Balz and Scott Clement.

It’s education, stupid. In his own analysis, pollster Langer said this survey suggests that education is a more powerful influence on voter preferences than gender itself when analyzing Trump voters.

Clinton leads by 8 points among women, while she and Trump run evenly among men — an unexpected change from late September, when Clinton led by 19 points among women, Trump by 19 among men. This reflects greater support for Trump among white women who lack a college degree, partly countered by gains for Clinton among white men.

The survey results may reflect something of a rally for Trump among those who reject the controversy over his sexual behavior as a legitimate issue, and for Clinton among those who are concerned about it. And the dividing line on this judgment seems to be not gender, but education.

stupidtrumpsupportersAmong likely voters, just 43 percent of non-college white women see Trump’s treatment of women as a legitimate issue, essentially the same as it is among non-college white men, 45 percent. By contrast, about two-thirds of college-educated whites, men and women alike, say the issue is a legitimate one.

Get that: if Langer is right, about six in 10 white women (and about as many men) who have no college education, don’t see Trump’s treatment of women as a legitimate issue while more than six in 10 white women (and men) with a college education say Trump’s odious treatment of women is indeed a legitimate issue.

What continues to separate Clinton and Trump, and which Trump’s disgusting remarks and actions with women only further exacerbate, is the most fundamental measure in any presidential contest: whether voters see him as fit to be president.

“The poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, also finds that Clinton holds a continued lead on perhaps the most basic gauge, being qualified for office. Fifty-nine percent of registered voters see her as qualified vs. 39 percent who say the same about Trump.” Emphasis most decidedly ours.

Grab that, Donald.

Hillary Solid, Lurker Donald Doesn’t Go Postal

Monday, October 10th, 2016

lurkingHillary Clinton was solid but not spectacular in the second presidential brawl debate, while Donald Trump improbably managed to keep his head from exploding — despite calling his rival “the devil,” claiming she has “hatred in her heart” and suggesting that as president he’d put her jail, like the banana Republican that he is.

As a practical matter, however, Clinton doubtlessly won decisively with the one, crucial group of voters in play – suburban women.

Trump, stuck in a political tar pit produced by his pornographic boasts of being a world class “pussy” grabber, captured on a leaked videotape, dismissed his bombshell comments as mere “locker room talk” and then immediately pivoted to a wild attack on Bill Clinton’s outrageous but long-ago sexual misconduct; in a smart tactical move, Clinton did not pile on Trump about the tape, choosing to let him continue his singular spectacle of flailing over it, and swatted away Trump’s Bubba bashing by saying she would “go high” while he went low.

She did offer a few slicing comments, however: “I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it,” she said at one point. “It represents exactly who he is.”

More importantly and substantively, she also focused her appeal to women by promising to appoint Supreme Court justices who would protect a women’s right to choose by supporting the court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.

Trump by contrast underscored his willingness to allow the Supreme Court to outlaw abortion, by saying he’d appoint justices like the late Antonin Scalia, a fierce Roe foe.

As CNN big foot John King noted, “Suburban women are a huge force in presidential elections, and Hillary Clinton has them now.”

hillarydebateHillary highs and lows. Clinton’s most stinging dig at Trump came in pointing to his volatile temperament and undercutting his  fundamental qualifications for the Oval Office: “You know, with prior Republican nominees for president, I disagreed with them on politics, policies and principals, but I never questioned their fitness to serve,” she said. “Donald Trump is different,” adding later that Trump “lives in an alternate reality.”

Clinton’s worst moments, however, when she tried to defend her lucrative private Wall Street speeches, one of which included her candid admission that she had different “public and private” positions on financial issues. Her explanation: she was referring to what Abraham Lincoln said in the hit movie “Lincoln,” produced by Steven Spielberg.

“I was making the point that it is hard sometimes to get the Congress to do what you want to do and you have to keep working on it,” she said.


“She lied, and now she’s blaming the lie on the late great Abraham Lincoln,” Trump replied. “Honest Abe never lied. That’s the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you.”

It was, as one commentator observed, the second worst thing that ever happened to Abe Lincoln.

trumptownhallTrump’s tirade. The sharpest exchange of the night came when Trump brought up (and misrepresented) Clinton’s deleted emails. Trump (who apparently has forgotten about Watergate and Iran-Contra) said “I hate to say it, but if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception, there has never been anything like it and we’re going to have a special prosecutor.”

Clinton responded by saying that Trump’s words simply were “not true” and urging voters to check out her campaign website for a fact check: “It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”

“Because you would be in jail,” Trump snapped.


Turning to the explosive issue that has consumed his campaign for the past three days, Trump defended his “locker room talk” with Access America Hollywood – in which he bragged of he sexually assaults women — by vowing to…”knock out ISIS.”

So there’s that.

trumpbaldwinStyle and substance. Throughout the town hall-style affair, Clinton was respectful, conversational and dignified, and demonstrated her wonky knowledge about policy. Sound-off listeners saw Clinton sit calmly, smile or speak directly to questioners, while Trump acted like the audience wasn’t there in answering their questions. He alternately glowered, scowled and paced the stage, menacingly lurking behind Clinton from behind; he delivered occasionally coherent answers that often devolved into word salad:

But I notice, anytime anything wrong happens, they like to say the Russians are — she doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking. But they always blame Russia. And the reason they blame Russia because they think they’re trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know nothing about Russia. I know — I know about Russia, but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I don’t deal there. I have no businesses there. I have no loans from Russia.

I have a very, very great balance sheet, so great that when I did the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue, the United States government, because of my balance sheet, which they actually know very well, chose me to do the Old Post Office, between the White House and Congress, chose me to do the Old Post Office. One of the primary area things, in fact, perhaps the primary thing was balance sheet. But I have no loans with Russia. You could go to the United States government, and they would probably tell you that, because they know my sheet very well in order to get that development I had to have.

All righty then.

A compendium of newsworthy Trump takeaways. The Donald variously:

– said “no one has more respect for women than me” — a Kafkaesque assertion given his “grab ‘em by the pussy” comment

– attacked the moderators for ganging up on him, always a weak move.

– confirmed the big tax story, by admitting he used a $916 million loss on his 1995 taxes to avoid paying income taxes, comparing himself to Warren Buffett and George Soros, neither of whom is running for president last we checked.

– said he hasn’t talked to his running mate Mike Pence recently, but disagrees with him on using military force to stop the slaughter in Aleppo. (!!)

Notes from here and there. Politico did a nice job of pulling out the seven nastiest attack lines from the debate, which you can read here.

Clinton won the debate in CNN’s instant poll of debate watchers (a slightly Democratic-leaning sample) 57-37% but 63% said Trump did better than they expected he would.

Trump is likely to suffer in the next few days from fact checkers who will note that he was wrong and/or untruthful about many of his most contentious arguments. When these are clipped together, it won’t look pretty.

Excellent Times piece on reactions of women across the country to the debate:

It was a striking and singular tableau: a male candidate for president being asked, by the first woman to share such a stage, to defend crude comments in which he had seemed to reduce her gender to its anatomy.


Trump women protecting private parts

Bottom line. So while Trump didn’t self-immolate as he did in the first debate, he did nothing to expand his base;  Clinton did nothing to undermine her own growing lead in national polls and in battleground states – especially where suburban women will play a key role.

The Calbuzz National Affairs Desk hit the road to watch the debate with a one-person focus group in Portland, Ore. Brooklyn Guron, 12, 11 years and 11 months, one of the few children in the nation allowed to watch the sometimes X-rated affair, synopsized nicely on behalf of America’s Youth: “Trump kept talking about the past and Hillary Clinton talked about the future, which is what matters.”

As he often does, Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker summed up the debate as well as anyone in a piece headlined “Trump Vows to Defeat Bill Clinton.”

Kamala Vs. Loretta: The Worst Debate In History

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

harrisdebateDespite her self-regarding belief, Barbara Boxer has not exactly been a paragon of political achievement in the U.S. Senate — but c’mon is this really the best a state of 39 million people can do in finding a replacement?

Not since the tap dancing George Murphy and the tam o’shanter-styling S.I. Hayakawa squatted in California’s seats in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body have there been two Mickey Mouse lightweights as insubstantial as 2016 Senate wannabes Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez.

So we guess it was appropriate that the one and only faceoff between the Democratic dynamic duo Wednesday night was the lamest so-called debate in memory, Or at least since the 2016 vice-presidential contenders parleyed the night before.

sanchezdebateA dilettante’s delight: The ABC7-produced event in L.A. was, and let us put this as politely as possible, a bloody muddle: a panel of three, amateur-night questioners competed for time with a batch of pre-recorded Real People (some of whom could not be heard by the rivals in the studio) to pose the most insipid inquiries possible, while OCD-stricken moderator Marc Brown continuously refused to let the candidates finish sentences, apparently concerned there wouldn’t be time left for the crucial performance of a troupe of trapeze artists waiting in the wings.

At one point, one of the three panelists (we omit Janis Hirohama’s name to spare her family embarrassment) actually asked Harris and Sanchez “what committees would you like to serve on?” Yuck.

In the end, sigh, Harris’s banalities and clichés trumped Rep. Sanchez’s squeaky prattling and saccharine babbling, and Kamala was the only one on the stage who at least had the poise and appearance of a U.S. Senator.

Three key takeaways:

Where were Willon, Cadelago and Marinucci? Egghead Raphael Sohenshine of the (all rise) Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State L.A.; League of Women Voters goo-goo Hirohama and ABC7 general assignment reporter Adrienne Alpert all are, no doubt, very nice people who are routinely kind to dogs and curtain crawlers. Not one, alas, is a professional political reporter who is actually, um, covering the Senate race.

So instead of benefiting from beat reporters who know what they’re talking about, and who might have asked at least one – one, for the love of God, one! – follow-up question, we were subjected to this trio of worthies earnestly reading her or his list of shallow questions conscientiously prepared in study hall. That’s not to mention moderator Brown, who seemed to think the 12 people who actually tuned into the affair did so to hear him bellow “your time is up,” any time either Kamala or Loretta came close to expressing a complete thought. Secret memo to Marc: the fans don’t come to the game to watch the umpires.

lorettabowsoutQueen of the platitude: Harris was alternately arrogant, condescending, weak-kneed and pandering. Some examples of her soaring rhetoric: On water: “We must have a conversation around this” (A conversation? Really? Hint, hint: California’s been having a “conversation” on water since before the Bear Flag Republic. No word yet on any progress). On fighting terrorism: “We have to be smart and tough” (now don’t get too far out on a limb there, General). On U.S.-Russia relations: (“I believe that Russia poses a serious threat to our country” (Ooh). Also: we hereby demand a moratorium on using the word “unpack” unless you’re talking about removing the contents of a suitcase. Big upside: she speaks in complete sentences.

Word salad Sanchez: For her part, Loretta was smarmy, scatterbrained, snarling and sarcastic. At least her self-dramatic digressions were long-winded. To her credit, Loretta did roll out an entertaining series of creative gestures to distract from her semi-coherent verbal frolics, at one point forming a little hand puppet mouth while saying that Kamala was all talk and no action, and, at another, shooing the air in her foe’s direction, like a fairy princess dismissing the wicked witch from her kingdom. Sadly for Sanchez, Harris totally clobbered her on her truly lousy House attendance record.

quentin-tarantino-gun-to-headBottom line: Neither candidate did anything that will change a race now shaped as a Harris win. As a practical matter, it wouldn’t matter anyway, since either of them would fill the Boxer space in the Senate of predictable, reflexive support and fist-shaking on behalf of every liberal Democratic interest group in the state. Good times, CTA, trial lawyers and SEIU!

What a pair.

Full disclosure: we watched this horror show with one eye focused on the Giants memorable wild card win over the Mets. However: the most recent PPIC poll reported that a fourth of likely voters said they might not cast ballots in this one. And, despite our long and impeccable citizenship records – we’re the only two people in California who actually show up for jury duty – we’re tempted to join them.