Archive for the ‘Senate race’ Category



How Climate Change Attitudes Affect the Gov Race

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Barely noticed in the stories that ran last week based on a Reuters /Ipsos poll (that showed Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer with “narrow” leads in their races for governor and U.S. Senate) was this nugget in the piece by Steve Holland of Reuters:

“The survey also found a wide disparity between the parties about the state’s climate change and environmental regulations. It said 68 percent of Democrats believe green policies will drive investment in green technology and jobs, while 62 percent of Republicans think they will create higher energy costs.”

Barely noticed*, perhaps, because the Reuters mainbar passed over the really important news , buried in the survey data that Ipsos graciously shared with Calbuzz:

That half the registered voters agree that “California regulations regarding climate change and the environment drive investment in green technology and create green jobs.” That’s compared to just 38% who say those regulations “will create higher energy costs and lead to cuts in traditional jobs.”

That’s essentially a split of 50-38% in favor of AB32, the state’s pioneering climate change law that some oil companies and others are trying to repeal with Proposition 23. And even more important than the mirror stands by party the Reuters story noted (Democrats 68-21% for green jobs; Republicans 62-27 for higher costs and job losses) was this number: Among independents 56% said climate change regulations would create green jobs while just 30% said they would drive up costs and unemployment.

Loyal Calbuzz readers will recall that we have argued for some time that 1) the environment is a threshold issue for independent voters, much like choice: if a candidate is seen as “wrong” on the issue, voters don’t care what their stance is on the really important issues like economy and jobs and 2) Meg Whitman, in trying not to get outflanked on the right by Steve Poizner in the GOP primary, made a strategic blunder by declaring herself an implacable foe of AB32.

Although Whitman has not yet taken a position on Prop. 23, it’s hard to see how she could justify NOT supporting it, since she herself has called for suspending the measure because she’s afraid it’s a job killer.

It’s amusing when big foot Washington reporters realize that something happening in California has national significance, like Ron Brownstein’s story in National Journal looking at the movement to repeal AB32.  But really, they miss the practical political point, too, when they argue: “In this grueling economy, California’s climate-change law still faces a tough struggle in November.”

With Gov. Schwarzenegger, former Secretary of State George Shultz, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and a host of other business interests, including clean-tech firms, lining up to defend AB32 (and with “Yes” twice as hard to win on the ballot than “No”), what makes the battle over the measure most interesting is the effect it will have on the governor’s and U.S. Senate races (Republican Carly Fiorina is also unrelentingly against AB32).

We’ll know more when new survey data is available from the Field Poll, but in the most recent surveys PPIC had AB32’s approval at 66% and Field had it at 58%. In addition, Attorney General Jerry Brown gave it a rather crippling official title and summary: “Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”

The Ipsos Public Affairs survey has some drawbacks: it’s a random digit dialed (RDD) survey in which voters are simply asked if they’re registered to vote and in what party they’re registered. That brings people with unlisted phone numbers into the sample (which you don’t get using the voter list), but it relies on respondents to tell pollsters if they’re actually registered to vote (a somewhat iffy proposition). PPIC still uses RDD; the Field Poll has gone to using the voter list.

BTW, those “narrow” leads reported by Reuters or “small” leads written up by Clifford Young of Ipsos might well have been understated. The Ipsos data shows that Brown leads Whitman 45-39% on the initial question, but when leaners are thrown in, it’s Brown over Whitman 48-41%. Likewise, Boxer leads Fiorina 45-41% in the initial vote but 48-42% when the leaners are added in. The top line report notes “Ipsos does not allocate leaners at this stage of the electoral cycle.”

Calbuzz, however, is happy to include the leaners for both candidates. In the governor’s race, Brown leads 79-14% among Democrats; Whitman leads 82-11% among Republicans and — critically — Brown leads 47-15% among independents.

Also, while Whitman has been making a big push for Latinos (after her muscular anti-illegal-immigration rhetoric in the GOP primary), Ipsos had it 59-34% for Brown among Latinos. And while the Ipsos sample of 600 is too small to look at party by gender or gender by party, we can tell you this: Brown was leading Whitman 46-41% among men but 49-41% among women. To date, as we have argued before, gender pales as an influence on the vote compared to party.

* One political mover and shaker who DID catch the significance of the survey data was our friend Steve Maviglio over at California Majority Report.

New Polls: Poizner Inching Up, Tom Beating Carly

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

It’s not much to bank on, but Steve “The Commish” Poizner appears to have knocked eMeg Whitman down below 50% of the vote in the race for the Republican nomination for governor, according to a new public poll.

Following surveys in March from the Field Poll and the Public Policy Institute of California, both of which showed Whitman with better than 60% of the vote, a public poll by Capitol Weekly – this time with Republican and Democratic pollsters collaborating – finds eMeg leading The Commish 47-to-19%.

In addition, the Capitol Weekly survey found Tom Campbell solidly leading the GOP race for U.S. Senate, with 31% of the vote, ahead of Hurricane Carly Fiorina at 17% and Chuck DeVore, R-Stonehenge, at 14%, by far the strongest showing to date by the Orange County legislator.

“The good news for Jerry (Brown) is that Meg’s going to have to sweat this out,” said Ben Tulchin, the Democratic consultant on the poll. “In the Senate race. Fiorina is going to have to start bashing Campbell – she’s running out of time.”

There’s also a Rasmussen Poll – which Calbuzz dislikes because they do robo-calling and don’t disclose their methods – that shows Democrat Crusty the General Brown running ahead of eMeg in a November contest. More intriguing was Rasmussen’s finding that seven in 10 voters like Brown’s idea for three-way pre-primary debates with Whitman and Poizner.

Now, those numbers in the GOP governor’s race might not be much to brag on. But that didn’t stop Team Poizner Communications Director Jarrod Agen:

“Meg Whitman’s candidacy was always like one of those French soufflés one of her private chefs would cook up on her private jet — full of expensive air and destined to deflate.  All of Meg’s Goldman Sachs riches can’t convince California Republicans that we need a Barbara Boxer supporter as our nominee.  The numbers are moving as we expected, which means in this year’s general election Republicans will finally get a chance to vote for a Republican for Governor.”

The Whitman people – claiming that their internal polling has the race 55-24% for eMeg — smell desperation wafting out of the Poizner camp.

“In February, Steve Poizner had a favorable rating of only 15% and an unfavorable rating of 10%. Now, Steve Poizner’s favorable to unfavorable rating is 26% to 30%. For every one Republican voter that became positive to Steve Poizner two Republicans became negative,” wrote Whitman pollster John McLaughlin in a survey analysis.

“The fact of the matter is that Republican primary voters personally like Meg Whitman and when they get to know Poizner, they just dislike him. For that reason alone winning the Republican primary for Steve Poizner is hopeless and pointless,” McLaughlin said.

Conservative pollster Adam Probolsky surveyed 751  registered voters with a past history of voting April 10-13. The survey’s margin of error is +/- 3.7%. Democratic pollster Ben Tulchin of San Francisco consulted on the survey, ensuring a partisan balance.

While the survey – based on a projected June primary electorate — did not include November match-ups, the pollsters did ask this question:

“Thinking about the economy and jobs, which candidate for Governor do you think would do the best job?”  Interestingly, Brown – a career politician — pulled 32.5%, compared to 30.5% for Whitman and 9.2% for Poizner – both of them Silicon Valley business veterans.

Predictably, 53% of the Democrats gave Brown the edge on the economy and jobs, compared to 14% for Whitman and 4% for Poizner. Among Republicans it was 54% for Whitman, 18% of Poizner and 7% for Brown.

But among independents and others it was 29% for Brown, 25% for Whitman and 6% for Poizner suggesting that — for whatever reason — when party is not a factor, voters appear to trust Brown more than the two business executives on the economy and jobs. At least for now.

Said Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford, with a touch of glee:  “There’s only one candidate in the race who’s actually guided the state through a recessionary period and who, in eight years, helped create 1.9 million jobs.”

Carly’s Demon Sheep Meets eMeg’s $5M TV Buy

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Tom Meyer’s take on Tom Campbell today finds the wannabe Republican Senator posing, Scott Brown-like, for a Cosmo centerfold. This makes Dudley Do Right the first California politician in  history to be portrayed in one week as both a wolf in sheep’s clothing and a wolf in no clothing.

As the flapdoodle grew over rival Hurricane Carly Fiorina’s horrible web ad –  which casts Dudley as an evil, liberal, ram in drag lurking dangerously amid the clueless GOP flock  –  the authentic awfulness of iCarly’s 3:22 online commercial could be measured by one simple fact: it was so bad that Campbell e-blasted it to his own supporters.

Embarrassing, inane and juvenile, the now-infamous Demon Sheep ad joins Fiorina’s much-panned campaign web site in establishing her clearly as the leading cyberdunce and technoklutz running in 2010 for any office anywhere in the nation.

While Hurricane Carly’s handlers on Thursday sought to make light of how badly the spot bombed across the far reaches of the internets (“in all seriousness, who doesn’t need some entertainment to supplement the drier aspects of politics” one of her mouthpieces averred in an e-mail – clunk) it was hard to find anyone in state politics who applauded it as a really, really swell idea.

“If a political consultant tried to cut a happy cows-make-great-cheese ad while on blotter acid, it would look something like this,” said one longtime Republican strategist not playing in the Senate race.

For Carly’s sake, Calbuzz sincerely hopes she didn’t pay eMeg-level prices for this dog, the most head-scratching narrative since “Mulholland Drive.” Putting aside the fact that calling the soft-spoken, terminally mild-mannered Tom Campbell a “wolf” is the coolest thing anybody’s said about him in 30 years, the ad suffers from two fatal flaws:

First, its production values reek of something that might be churned out by a decidedly untalented, would-be film studies major at Santa Monica City College. (which, truth be told, is unfair to SMCC students). The over-the-top narrator can’t decide whether he’s talking to Campbell or addressing the viewers, freely mixing up the second and third person voices, and the cheesy wolf face supposedly masking Campbell would be a disgrace to the average denizen of the Bidey Wee Pre-School and Toddler Care Center.

More substantively, the central message of the ad portrays conservative Republicans -– the people whose support Fiorina is supposedly seeking — as a flock of dumbass ovine, baa-baa-baaing while mindlessly munching grass and mooning the big bad wolf lurking in the meadow.

Accusing iCarly of being in full “mutton meltdown,” Campbell flack James Fisfis properly harrumphed: “Contrary to Carly Fiorina’s insulting portrayal of fiscal conservatives as sheep, these are in fact involved people who engage the issues and ask tough questions.”

More amusing are the countless legions of tweeters and web commenters weighing in on the weighty matter, such as those over at Gawker, who ranged from members of the Responsible Bestiality Community (“Needs more sheep fucking”) to more serious political types (“Is this video trying to get me to vote for Carly Fiorina or convert me to Scientology?”) and the more be-here-now, philosophically inclined (“Meanwhile, my HP printer still jams”).

eMeg’s $5-million Mission – Make People Like Her: Want more proof that Meg Whitman is prepared to spend unlimited amounts of money to become California’s next governor? How about a maiden ad buy in excess of $5 million, including the Super Bowl pre-game show, for a TV commercial that never mentions that the candidate is a Republican?

It’s a soft-sell approach, with nice flourishes for skeptical women – simple jewelry and makeup, lots of nodding, mentioning that people are “scared to death,” and suggesting that “a business perspective is a bit of what California needs right now.” Not too much, you see, just a bit. Aaaaaw. Gentle branding, with only fleeting glimpses of the candidate herself.

Sure the ad fudges how long eMeg has lived in California (she suggests she’s lived here since 1980, which isn’t true) and there’s no demon sheep, but it’s a nice piece of work by Scott Howell and lays out Meg’s three priorities very clearly: creating jobs, cutting spending and fixing schools.

Why no mention of her actual political party (the one she joined up with just a short time ago)? “She is quite obviously a Republican and when voters are in the voting booth, they’ll know she’s a Republican,” Megaphoner Tucker Bounds told us. “This is an introductory ad. She’s introducing herself and her conservative principles and her solutions for California and that was the focus.”

Nice spin Tucker. But the reason she never mentions that she’s a Republican is that she’s not even running for the GOP nomination with this ad – she’s running for the general election, when she’ll need all the independents and Democrats she can possibly attract. This ad speaks right past the Republican base, assuming that she can win the nomination without catering to the conservative GOP rank-and-file.

Incidentally, that’s the same meta-message eMeg has sent to the state GOP by refusing to join Steve “The Commish” Poizner in debate at the statewide convention next month – that she shouldn’t be expected to try to hustle support from the Republican base: they should be delighted to have her as their standard-bearer. And thank you for that.

Teddy D. scores: Those looking for news of the Senate race with a bit more, um, grrrrav-i-tas are advised to check out Teddy Davis’ report on an interview with Campbell on ABC’s “The Note,” in which Tom Boy calls for a new carbon tax, coupled with cuts in the payroll tax, as alternative to incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer’s cap-and-trade proposal.

H-P Founders Would Be For Campbell, Not Fiorina

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

If William Hewlett and David Packard were alive today,  the famous eponymous founders of Hewlett Packard Co. would not be supporting ex- H-P CEO Carly Fiorina for U.S. Senate; they would be backing Tom Campbell.

Not only were both Hewlett and Packard enthusiastic recruiters and backers of Campbell in his first race for Congress in Silicon Valley in 1988, but their heirs fought bitterly with Fiorina over her management of H-P, and were crucial to the board of directors’ movement that canned Hurricane Carly in 2005.

In the Senate campaign, Fiorina trumpets her H-P tenure as central to her qualifications for the Senate. If she gets the Republican nomination, however, you can be sure that incumbent and veteran gut-fighter Barbara Boxer will let voters know Carly was picked as one of the worst CEOs of all time by, among others, Portfolio magazine:

A consummate self-promoter, Fiorina was busy pontificating on the lecture circuit and posing for magazine covers while her company floundered.

Bottom line: She became CEO in July, 1999 when HP’s stock price was $52 per share. Five years later it was $21 per share – a 60% decline – while the stock price of competitor Dell rose to $40, from $37 in the same period.

“Hewlett and Packard would roll over in their graves if they knew what she did to the H-P Way,” said one retired H-P executive we know well. “She was hated inside the company and by most retirees.” [Thanks to Calbuzzer wygk for pointing us to this anti-Carly web site operated by former H-P employees.]

Getting bounced from H-P wasn’t the only time Fiorina was shown the door.

In her only experience in big-time politics, she served for a while as a media surrogate for the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008. She lasted until September, when she said in a radio interview that Palin lacked the experience to run a major company like H-P – a gaffe she compounded by adding that, anyway, none of the candidates for president – including her man McCain – had the wherewithal to handle the task. Though she continued working on fundraising, she was pretty much banished as a campaign spokesperson campaign after that.

Given her history, it’s not surprising to read that Arianna Packard, daughter of David Woodley Packard (who, along with Walter Hewlett, the other eldest H-P son,  led the proxy fight to overturn Fiorina’s merger of H-P and Compaq), had given $2,400 to Assemblyman and GOP Senate hopeful Chuck DeVore. Or that H-P’s PAC has given the maximum $10,000 to Boxer.

Now that Campbell’s in the Senate race, our bet is that H-P and other Silicon Valley money mostly goes to Tom Boy, not the former Cara Carleton Sneed.

P.S. We tried to get former Rep. Ed Zschau, our old friend and the prototypical Silicon Valley politician — the original Zschauist –  to opine on whether Dave and Bill would support Campbell or Fiorina but he wouldn’t bite. He noted, however, that in addition to his current gigs teaching at Princeton and being involved in six start-up companies, he’s a member of Campbell’s campaign finance committee and that some of Dudley Do-Right’s campaign staffers were involved in his own Senate bid 24 years ago (covered by your creaky Calbuzzers).

My greatest strength is probably my humility: In a recent column on business leadership, Wall Street Journal online executive editor Alan Murray cited Fiorina as a fine example of what not to do:

Often, it’s in the humility department that modern leaders fail. Think of Carly Fiorina, who as CEO of Hewlett-Packard had her own picture inserted on the wall between those of the company’s iconic founders, Messers. Hewlett and Packard. Ms. Fiorina’s leadership of H-P foundered in part because she was perceived as devoting too much time to cultivating her own image, and too little to fixing the company’s internal management problems.

Even though cultivating your own image is the name of the game in politics, Fiorina’s efforts sometimes suggest she thinks that Senators get paid by the word.

Her daily barrage of press releases has already become a joking matter among political writers, For her campaign, however, it should be no joke that sometimes, less is more, or that a politician’s comments get devalued when the volume of them becomes too great (see Obama, Barack).

Last week was typical: the Hurricane’s campaign sent out at least 15 announcements (weekend excluded) about iCarly’s views on every conceivable subject. There were five on Wednesday alone, including an attack on Boxer over job creation; an attack on the Administration over Central Valley water supply; an account of an event at USC; her anticipatory comments about Obama’s State of the Union address; and her (You Tubed) comments about the actual SOTU. No word yet on when we’ll see her statement offering a look back at the State of the Union.

Who Got Pantsed, Whitman or Poizner? Is eMeg a felon? Is Mike Murphy an unindicted co-conspirator? Is Commish Poizner certifiably insane? Is Stuart Stevens Nurse Ratched in drag? Tune in tomorrow when Calbuzz definitively unravels this second-rate civic soap opera. Here’s a link to the story if you missed the action.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Calbuzz looooves Lady Gaga, the Carly Fiorina of pop music, but the whole pink lady from outer space thing is too much even for us.

PPIC: Boxer, Brown Slim Leads; Big Gender Gaps

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

In the wake of the GOP upset in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, a new public poll finds California’s Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer – thanks to a big advantage among women – clinging to a narrow 4-point lead over  Republican Tom Campbell, who entered the race only two weeks ago.

The survey, from the Public Policy Institute of California, also shows Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown – trailing among men but leading among women — with a slim 5-point advantage over Meg Whitman, the Republican former CEO of eBay.

The results mirror those reported last week by the Field Poll, but with closer margins than the earlier survey: Field had Boxer and Brown each with 10-point leads over Campbell and Whitman.

Both widely respected, the two polls use wholly different sampling methods to determine who is a likely voter. Another key factor: the distribution of voters by age in the Field Poll is considerably older – and closer to our projections — than in the PPIC survey.*

In the GOP Senate primary field, Campbell leads with 27% of the likely voters, followed by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina at 16% and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore at 8%.  Interestingly, Campbell holds an 8-point edge over Fiorina among men but a 14-point lead over her among women. Nearly half of GOP voters — 48% — remain undecided in the Senate race, PPIC reported.

Boxer has long run better among women than among men, and the findings in the PPIC survey underscore that dynamic.

Against Campbell, Boxer is trailing among men, 40-46%, but leads among women, 50-36%. Against DeVore, Boxer loses the men 41-45% but carries women 53-33%. And against Fiorina, Boxer loses men 41-46% but interestingly has her largest margin among women – 55-33%.

Against all three challengers, she takes about eight in 10 Democrats while they capture eight in 10 Republicans. But Boxer holds an important lead among the independents: 42-37% over Campbell, 45-35% over Fiorina and 45-34% over DeVore. Assuming either Boxer or her challenger holds his or her partisans, the battle in the Senate race will come down to who can carry the independents.

This is where Campbell – who is pro-choice, pro-gay rights and moderate on the environment – could, with significant resources, pose a more serious threat to Boxer than either Fiorina or DeVore.

Over in the GOP primary for governor, Whitman, who held a 20-point lead over Campbell in December, before he switched races, now holds a 30-point lead over Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, her lone remaining major rival.

Even with 41% of the vote compared to Poizner’s 11%, however, an additional 44% of the GOP primary voters remain undecided.

The PPIC findings also suggest Whitman has a problem among women voters, much like the Field Poll showed. For example, Whitman leads Poizner by 35 points (48-13%) among men in the primary vote but by 25 points – one-third less – among women (34-9%).

In the primary, that’s a gender difference but in a general election match-up against Jerry Brown, it’s a genuine gender gap: It’s Whitman over Brown 43-38% among men but Brown over Whitman 44-30% among women. That’s a 19-point gender gap in Brown’s favor against the woman GOP candidate, giving Brown his overall 41-36% edge over Whitman.

The same is not true for a Brown-Poizner match-up: he leads Poizner 43-34% among men and 46-24% among women for an overall advantage of 44-29%.

Other findings in the PPIC poll:

Most Californians would be willing to pay higher taxes to maintain current funding for public schools and most favor spending cuts in prisons and corrections . . .

But while majorities want to protect K–12 schools and cut spending on prisons, Californians are as divided as their leaders on the overall strategy to deal with the state’s $20 billion budget deficit: 41 percent favor a mix of spending cuts and tax increases and 37 percent favor mostly spending cuts (9% favor mostly tax increases).

They are in more agreement when it comes to asking the federal government for help, as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has done: 66 percent say California should seek federal aid to help meet its budget obligations.

PPIC surveyed 2,001 California adults Jan. 12-19, including 1,223 respondents deemed to be likely voters or whom 445 were identified as likely voters in the Republican primary. The margin of error for the overall survey is ±2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level, ±3 percent for likely voters and ±5 percent for the GOP primary.

Get the whole thing here.

* The differences between Field and PPIC are significant. Field calls only registered voters from the voter file and uses past voting behavior in the file to determine who is a likely voter; PPIC calls households at random (thereby reaching households with unlisted numbers)  and asks people if they are registered and likely to vote.

Field’s callers know how people are registered — Democrat, Republican, Decline to State or Other; PPIC asks people to tell them. Field makes voters who only use a cell phone (younger voters) a key part of their survey; PPIC includes 200 cell phone users but not necessarily people who have no land line.

One result:  While 45% of likely voters in the Field Poll are age 55 and older, just 39% of the voters in the PPIC poll are in that age bracket.  Because Brown has a powerful advantage among older voters, his percentages are likely understated in the PPIC survey. (BTW, the Calbuzz estimate, based on our experience and extensive review with pollsters and analysts, is that 59% of the electorate in November will be age 50 and older and about 46% will be age 55 and older.)