Posts Tagged ‘favorability’



Babs’ Big Lead in Field Poll; Meg to Nicky: ‘Go Home’

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Despite much huffing and puffing from the beltway media and an $8 million injection into Carly Fiorina’s campaign by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Barbara Boxer has expanded her lead in the U.S, Senate race to 49-41%, according to the latest Field Poll.

Boxer owes her lead to her standing among independent voters, women and Latinos, and also to the fact that non-partisan voters have a very low opinion of Fiorina – 30% favorable versus 51% unfavorable – compared to their view of Boxer, 50-36% favorable.

With her background of having exported 30,000 jobs when she was CEO of Hewlett Packard, and with her stands against choice, for offshore oil drilling and against California’s climate change law, Fiorina has positioned herself squarely to the right of the California mainstream.

The only broad demographic groups where she is ahead more than the survey’s 3.2% margin of error are with Republicans (79-10%) and with voters in Southern California outside of Los Angeles (53-39%) and in the Central Valley (50-38%).

While Boxer’s favorable-to-unfavorable rating is just 48-47%, she is drawing more than eight in 10 Democrats, about half the independents and men and a majority of women. She has nearly two-thirds of the Latinos, plus six in 10 voters in Los Angeles and more than six in 10 voters in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Among those who have already voted by mail – 21% of the survey sample – Boxer leads 48-42%. And because the Field Poll’s sample contained 44% Democrats and 39% Republians – a five-point differential, compared to 13 points in official registration – the so-called “enthusiasm gap” is accounted for.

Moreover, Field’s likely voter sample contains just 51% women, while many pollsters, including last week’s Los Angeles Times/USC Survey, anticipate that women will comprise 53% of the total electorate. If that is accurate, then the Field Poll could actually be understating the vote for Boxer. In addition, Field’s likely voter sample contains 16% Latinos – a proportion that is three percentage points below registration.

The Field Poll interviewed a random sample of 1,501 registered voters, listed in the Secretary of State’s voter file by landline or cell phone, depending on their listing in the official file. From them, Field culled 1,092 likely voters who said they had already voted or who said they were “absolutely certain” to vote and whose voting history – if they were not newly registered – suggested they were likely to vote. Likely voters in Field’s survey constitute 73% of the registered voters who completed interviews.

Interviewing was conducted in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese in two waves: Oct 14-19 and Oct 20-26. The margin of error for the overall likely voter sample is +/- 3.2%.

Calbuzz obtained the Field Poll from sources because we have been denied our offer to become paid subscribers.

Are you kidding me? What to make ot Meg Whitman’s statement to Greta Van Susteren of Fox News:  “It breaks my heart, but she should be deported because she forged documents and she lied about her immigration status . . . The law’s the law and we live in a rule of law, it’s important.”

We hate sounding cynical, but the Armies of eMeg have given us good reason to suspect the worst, as in: Could it be that Whitman’s people have concluded they have completely lost the Latino vote (since polls show Whitman drawing well below 30%)?

And so they opted to pander to the right-wing of the Republican Party, which is eager to see Nicky Diaz deported and which was disappointed, not that eMeg sent Nicky packing, but that she didn’t turn her into immigration authorities.

By far the most offensive aspect of Whitman’s performance in the matter, however, is her disgraceful public posture of shedding crocodile tears while blithely throwing Diaz under the bus, all the while whining and wallowing in self-pity about how this is breaking HER heart. Simply shameful.

Field Poll: Why Brown is Ahead, Willing to Go Positive

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Gaining hugely among women, independents, and Latinos in the past month, Democrat Jerry Brown now leads Republican Meg Whitman 49-39% among likely voters in the governor’s race, according to the authoritative Field Poll – widely regarded as the most accurate political survey in California.

Despite spending $38 million from Sept. 1 to the middle of October – and many millions since – Whitman has only made herself more unpopular, while Brown, who spent about $24 million in the same period, saw his popularity improve slightly. Whitman’s favorable-to-unfavorable rating is now 42-51%, slightly worse than her 40-45% standing in September. Meanwhile, Brown’s favorable-to-unfavorable rating now is 47-47% compared to 44-47% in September.

Team Krusty, it seems, has made the election a referendum on Whitman’s character while the Armies of eMeg have been unable to force voters to focus on their narrative about Brown’s record on the issues, which they calculated would frame the race.

Essentially, Whitman’s extravagant TV campaign, overseen by veteran GOP strategist Mike Murphy, has failed either to make his candidate popular or to knock Brown off his stride. But Brown’s guerilla advertising, made by longtime associate Joe Trippi and his shop, have driven up Whitman’s negatives while making Brown seem more authentic and knowledgeable.

The Brown campaign unveiled a killer ad on Wednesday, this one simply clips from the Women’s Conference interaction on Tuesday among NBC’s Matt Lauer, Brown and Whitman in which Brown agrees to take any negative ads off the air if Whitman will do the same. But she refused.

On Wednesday, the Brown campaign gave Whitman 24 hours to decide if she would accept the no-negative-ad challenge before putting the ad on the air (although it’s not really a negative) and said he’d call on all those groups supporting him to take down their negative ads if she would agree to do the same.

“Jerry Brown’s phony pledge is just what you would expect from a cynical career politician,” replied Whitman spokeswoman Andrea Rivera. “Jerry Brown is hypocritically pledging to take down negative ads, while his allies are launching new negative spots at the very same time.”

Brown’s comfort with taking down all negative ads reflects his lead in public and private surveys. In today’s Field Poll, Brown is pulling about eight in 10 Democrats while Whitman has about three-fourths of the Republicans. But among independents – the crucial, cross-over voters who determine statewide elections in California  – Brown has taken a commanding 49-33% lead, up from a 38-38% tie in September.

Brown also has captured a big-time lead among women – 51-35%.  Asked Wednesday on a conference call with reporters, why Whitman is doing so poorly among women, Steve Glazer, Brown’s campaign manager replied: “Through words and deeds she’s been unable to connect and create any credibility and trust.”

Likewise, among Latinos, who had flirted with Whitman until learning that she had unceremoniously fired her housekeeper of nine years and would deny a path to citizenship even for undocumented college graduates, the Attorney General has soared to 57-27%, driving Whitman’s margin below the campaign’s target of one-third of Latino voters.

The only broad categories in which Whitman now leads outside of the poll’s 3.2% margin of error are Republicans, Southern California outside of Los Angeles (50-37%)  and inland counties (47-38%). But those inland counties only account for 29% of the vote and in coastal counties, which make up 71% of the vote, Brown leads 53-25%. Much of that comes from Brown’s huge 58-30% lead in Los Angeles County and massive 61-28% margin in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Because voting-by-mail has already begun in California, the Field Poll was able to break voters into three categories: 1) permanent absentee voters (known in the trade as PAVs)  who have already voted (21%); 2) those PAVs who will vote (34%); and 3) those who plan to vote Nov. 2 at their precinct (45%).

Among all PAVs, Brown leads 48-40%, including by 48-41% among those who have already voted. He also leads 49-38% among those who plan to vote Nov. 2. The element of certainty among those who have already voted, coupled with the very tight ratio of Democrats-to-Republicans in the likely voter sample – 44% D and 39% R (compared to a 13% spread in official registration) – already incorporates effects of the so-called enthusiasm gap that is said to favor Republicans this election cycle.

Moreover, Field’s likely voter sample contains just 51% women, while many pollsters, including last week’s Los Angeles Times/USC Survey, anticipate that women will comprise 53% of the total electorate. If that is accurate, then the Field Poll could actually be understating the vote for Brown. In addition, Field’s likely voter sample contains 16% Latinos – a proportion that is three percentage points below registration.

The Field Poll interviewed a random sample of 1,501 registered voters, listed in the Secretary of State’s voter file by landline or cell phone, depending on their listing in the official file. From them, Field culled 1,092 likely voters who said they had already voted or who said they were “absolutely certain” to vote and whose voting history – if they were not newly registered – suggested they were likely to vote. Likely voters in Field’s survey constitute 73% of the registered voters who completed interviews.

Interviewing was conducted in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese in two waves: Oct 14-19 and Oct 20-26. The margin of error for the overall likely voter sample is +/- 3.2%.

Calbuzz obtained the Field Poll from sources because our offer to become paid subscribers has been refused.

Can’t anybody here play this game? The Giants won ugly to open the Blue State-Red State World Series on Wednesday, drubbing the Texas Rangers 11-7, but the Calbuzz MVP of Game One was Joe Garofoli of the hometown S.F. daily.

While many others fell for eMeg’s tired stunt of placing a joke wager with a politician from the rival state in the Series,  Joe Ballgame alone called out the candidate for shameless band wagon pandering by trying to associate herself with the sensational story of the Giants’ unlikely run into the Fall Classic.

Among his other well-placed criticisms, he noted that she phoned Texas Governor Rick Perry to make the phony bet from a surf shop in San Diego, a town represented baseball-wise by the Padres, the club San Francisco beat to get into the playoffs.

Now we strongly suspect that, if Her Megness actually ever did show up for a ballgame, she’d a) be wearing a cashmere sweater tied loosely around her shoulders; b) order a glass of chablis from the beer guy; and c) ask at the concession stand if she could get a tofu dog on a whole wheat bun. All that aside, however, we can only shake our heads at the breathtaking presumption of a rookie pol, who’s never been elected to anything, not only poaching on the perquisites of California’s actual governor but also anointing herself head cheerleader for a ball club, let alone an entire state.

Instead of just accepting the brushback pitch that she clearly deserved, and that Garofoli quite properly delivered, however, Team Whitman thought it a good idea to pick a fight over Joe’s original item.

Insisting eMeg’s status as a Giants fan was long-standing, they sent him a clip of an interview with a San Diego TV station in which she said she was rooting for the G-men in the playoffs, apparently to demonstrate her willingness to take a tough stance even if it meant offending viewers in Padre-town.

Only problem was, the interview happened on Oct. 18, 15 days after the Giants beat the Padres on the last day of the regular season to win the National League West division crown and knock the San Diegans out of the post-season.  Sheesh.

As such an avid fan, Meg, here’s some Giants slang you’ll no doubt appreciate: Grab some pine, meat.

Home Stretch: Meg and Jerry on Air and Ground

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

The early onset senility sweeping through the executive suite of Calbuzz has caused us to forget the author of the best recent tweet on the governor’s race so, with apologies to this anonymous Twitter talent, we’ll just rip it off:

Jerry Brown is your crazy uncle and Meg Whitman is your mean aunt.

Unfair, to be sure. But concise and on point.  Pick your poison: The haughty billionaire and self-appointed savior of California who’d casually kick you to the curb if you’re an inconvenience and later deny it ever happened. Or the dedicated but distracted, impulsive and hyperactive political savant who’s always eager to inform you he’s the smartest guy in the room.

As they charge into the final two weeks of the campaign, both candidates are seeking to alter those meta-images. eMeg has hopped on a bus to hit every diner and coffee shop she can find across the state, wolfing down cheeseburgers and milk shakes at a heart-stopping rate while promising she’ll get everybody a job; Krusty the General has been focused more on substance, talking incessantly about budgets, taxes and the green job economy (with a dash of hothouse populism on the side).

Whitman’s sudden interest in being with the folks, which seems to us something she might have done, oh say, in the summer of 2009, is an effort to repair her badly sagging favorability ratings, as nearly a year of overwhelmingly negative ads worth something north of $100 million seem to have convinced California voters she’s just not a very nice person.

Add to that the facts that, a) from the start, very few of her ads have been positive and of those not one has been memorable and b) Her Megness on the natural doesn’t appear to be the kind of person you feel all warm and fuzzy about when she walks in the room, and it’s clear why her strategists have decided their best play is putting her out on the road.

We’ll fight them in the air…There’s no question that the strategy team at Camp Whitman believes the race is within the margin of error — a few points either way — depending on what the turnout is. If the Democrats, who have a 13-point registration advantage, show up with 10% more Ds than Rs, Whitman’s in deep yogurt. But at an 8-point spread, it’s a jump ball, they think. Not to mix a metaphor.

“We’ll beat them in GOTV [more on this later],” said Mike Murphy, Whitman’s chief strategist. “The issue is how we can increase DTS (decline-to-state voters) . . .  We have a lot of DTS mail afoot right now.”

Meanwhile, on the air, Whitman is running two tracks: a positive ad titled “Baloney,” that has a warm, talk-to-the-viewer Meg talking about jobs, schools and cutting government; and negatives that savage Brown as weak on the death penalty – with cops in (some sort of) uniform calling him a Rose Bird-loving wuss – and fiercely in favor of raising your taxes, stealing your purse and allowing fat, lazy, 55-year-old, retired state workers to eat bonbons and sip champagne.

As for Brown, he has spent most of the campaign pretending there isn’t a campaign. When he finally, reluctantly, announced his candidacy, he did one web video and then retreated to his clubhouse headquarters in Oakland, foraying out only to make self-serving weighty announcements connected to his duties as attorney general.

Given that a vast swath of the electorate has only dim recollections about his first turn as governor, he has risked being defined in the race by Whitman’s attack ads, which have portrayed him as a wild-eyed socialist, consorting with Castro and out to seize the public treasury on behalf of his labor thug friends. Fortunately for him, his union cronies spent $14 million attacking Whitman all summer long and kept her from breaking away.

Brown’s own straight-to-the-camera ads, consistently emphasizing “no new taxes without voter approval,” have had a decidedly home-movie quality about them compared to Whitman’s high-gloss spots. That, Brown aides tell us, was intentional – to underscore the essential fault line Krusty hoped to bring to the campaign: Whitman is phony; Brown is authentic.

Thus his recent strong emphasis on Meg’s proposal for a capital gains tax cut, which positions him as a fighter for the middle class, his discussions of his green jobs plan and his gauzy recitations of how he just can’t wait to dig into the details of the messed-up budget with his 120 closest friends in the Legilsature (Calbuzz sez: Watch what you wish for, Jerry).

The bright kids at Camp Krusty believe their guy has been picking up 1-2 points per week since Labor Day and that the race is now moving firmly in their direction. They think they’ve got both the issues and the character arguments on their side and that she has blown it with Latinos, women and moderates — all key components of a Democratic statewide victory.

On the air, Brown has used his cached $20 million to burnish his “knowledge and know-how” to balance the budget, create jobs and make the tough decisions. But he’s also running blistering ads that attack Whitman’s character, suggesting (with a polygraph running in the background) that she’s a liar and another citing tough language about Whitman from a San Jose Mercury News endorsement and highlighting the backing from most of California’s major newspapers. Tuesday morning Team Krusty rolled out still another new ad, this one with clips of Whitman and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger making almost identical arguments for how they would lead California.

We’ll fight them on the ground…Meanwhile, in the background, the Whitman campaign apparently is operating a major effort to micro-target voters and get them to cast a ballot for Meg. She’s not only got TV ads in Mandarin and Cantonese, but phone banks with people who speak Korean and Farsi, commercial information about voters’ incomes, automobiles and magazines.

Bottom line, they’ve got the ability to find a one-eyed, pickup-driving, Basque subscriber to Field & Stream in Atwater, if they think he’ll vote for Whitman.

So fancy is their program, that Garry South, the former consultant to Gray Davis (the last Democrat elected governor since Brown), is practically drooling. He’s been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post praising Whitman’s voter targeting efforts and slamming the California Democratic Party and its chairman, John Burton for a) giving $3.85 million to Brown and b) not having a decent GOTV effort of its own.

“This is not the way it’s supposed to work,” South told the Journal. “The Democratic nominee for governor in this state has to be the primary funder of coordinated campaigns.”

Brown, he told the Post, “will be arguably competitive on the air for the last four weeks, but I do not believe there is anything approaching a get-out-the-vote operation on the ground that is going to be up to the task.”

South’s praise for the Republican campaign and his dismissal of his own party’s effort drew a sharp rebuke from the CDP’s executive director Shawnda Westly. “In eight years he’s done nothing of note and it’s no surprise that Garry’s on the sidelines in one of the most competitive races in history,” she said. “He simply doesn’t know what’s happening in the current Democratic Party.”

We’ll fight them on the web...In 2009 and 2010, CDP Chairman Burton and the Democrats have raised a whopping $21.5 million which has been meticulously divvied into state and federal accounts because of varying limits on contributions, party officials told Calbuzz.

Even after giving Brown a big chunk of dough (“John doesn’t want a governor who will fuck poor people,” one CDP source said.) the party for the first time has been operating a $4 million voter contact program over the last three months of the general election. (That’s in addition to $2 million in anti-Whitman issue ads about Goldman Sachs that the party ran during the primary campaign.)

Not including training and voter-list sharing and technology disseminated last year, the party is using that $4 million to hunt down a million occasional Democratic voters, get absentee ballots to them, get them to turn them in and on a planned four-day door-to-door walk to find and bring out voters who still haven’t been contacted or convinced to vote, we’re told.

The Democrats’ targeting is surely not as elaborate as Whitman’s is purported to be. But it’s a far cry from the flaccid efforts the CDP made when South and Davis were in power in Sacramento. Back then, the governor was raising money for the party just to keep the lights on at headquarters, CDP officials said. Times have changed, they insisted.

Moreover, they’ve been assisted by the Democratic National Committee’s Organizing for America, which has given the state party the micro-targeting tools that the Obama campaign used to historic effect in 2008. That’s not to mention the Latino-focused ground operation being managed by labor in Southern California and the Central Valley.

Whether GOTV efforts from either side, however, will make much of a dent is hard to predict. In a normal year, most consultants think GOTV can be worth 2-4 percentage points. Whether Whitman’s lavish program can overpower the Democrats’ effort is unclear. But in a close race, every little bit matters.

Poll: Ma’am Babs Widens Lead Over Hurricane Carly

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer has expanded her lead slightly over her Republican challenger, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who remains unknown to nearly a third of California voters, the Field Poll reports today.

Babs, who has sought to define Fiorina as a greedy former business tycoon who laid off thousands of workers and enriched herself in the process, holds a 47-41% lead in the race. And she has a big opportunity to further shape public opinion about her rival, because 28% of voters  have neither a favorable nor unfavorable view of Hurricane Carly.

Boxer’s level of support has not moved since July and those with an unfavorable view of her (48%) still outnumber those with a favorable view (45%). But her negative TV ad attacking Fiorina appears to have had some effect, with Carly’s support dropping from 44% in July, and undecideds increasing to 12%, from 9% since then.

In addition, Boxer has dramatically increased unfavorable views about Fiorina: voters with a favorable view (34%, the same as July) are outnumbered by those with an unfavorable view (38%, a big jump from 29% in July).

At the same time, Boxer’s positive ad may not have brought her more voters, but it appears to have improved her favorability. In July she had an 11-point net negative favorability of 41-52% and today her net negative is 3 percentage points.

Boxer Fiorina
Likely voters 47 41
Democrats 76 11
Republicans 10 79
Independents 46 40
Men 48 42
Women 46 40
Whites 45 47
Latinos* 48 29
LA County 47 38
Other SoCal 43 46
Central Valley 31 55
SF Bay Area 67 28
Other NorCal 41 33
Coastal 52 37
Inland 33 51
*very small sample
Field Poll 9/13/10

Both candidates are running well within their party bases: Boxer has 76% of Democrats and Fiorina has 79% of Republicans. But Boxer is also beating Fiorina 46-40% among the crucial independent voters.

And while Boxer enjoys a 46-40% lead among women, she holds a surprising  48-42% lead among men as well. This may be one of the reasons that Fiorina’s first TV spot, released Thursday, goes after Boxer as arrogant, using a clip of the hearing in June 2009 where she interrupted Brigadier Gen. Michael Walsh and asked him to call her “Senator” instead of “ma’am” because, as she put it, “I worked so hard to get that title.”

Fiorina needs to fuel the anti-Boxer anti-Washington sentiment evident in the Field Poll’s finding that while 67% of Boxer supporters say they are voting FOR her, 65% of Fiorina supporters say they are voting AGAINST Boxer. Maybe that explains the oddly off-point tag line in Fiorina’s ad where she concludes: “I’ll really go to work to end the arrogance in Washington.” (Huh?)

The Field Poll suggests there may only be a small audience for that pitch as views on Boxer – who has been in Congress for 28 years, including three terms in the Senate – are well established: only 7% of voters have no opinion about her.

Moreover, while Fiorina has a small lead among white voters (47-45%), Boxer has a huge 48-29% lead among Latinos (although the Field Poll sample of Latinos was unreliably small in this survey).

There are several issues Boxer has not yet put into a TV ad defining Fiorina in ways that are out of step with a majority of California voters. These include abortion, climate change, offshore oil drilling and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. If Boxer unloads on some or all of these, it is almost certain to affect a significant portion of the 28% of voters who as yet have no opinion about Fiorina.

Fiorina has a tough challenge: finding a way to reverse her standing with independent voters who, in California at least, tend to be politically moderate – and to the left of her – on those issues that Boxer has yet to include in her advertising.

Calbuzz is somewhat hampered in analyzing the survey in that the Field Poll has refused to allow us to become paid subscribers, with access to crosstabs until after they have been published. The data in this report come from sources.

The Field Poll surveyed 857 registered voters, including 599 likely voters, Sept. 14-21. The overall margin of error for the survey is +/- 4.1% and for likely voters it is +/- 5.8%. The data for this article are based on likely voters.

The future of print: As daily newspapers keep steadily shedding circulation, The Onion closely analyzed market conditions for the industry, and offers a a pretty damned funny hard look at the inevitable conclusion of this sad and regrettable trend. It’s here.


Field Poll: Brown, Whitman Tied in Governor’s Race

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Today’s Field Poll — showing the race for governor a dead heat, with Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown at 41% each — suggests opportunities and challenges for both candidates. But one number jumps out at us: despite spending in the range of $60 million on TV advertising alone, eMeg’s favorable rating has not improved one iota in six months.

And while most of her advertising has been aimed at undermining Brown’s image with voters – and she has driven up his unfavorable rating by 7 points since July – Brown’s favorable-to-unfavorable rating is still slightly better than Whitman’s. Hers is 40% favorable and 45% unfavorable (5% net negative); his is 44% favorable and 47% unfavorable (3% net negative).

In other words, Whitman’s vaunted and record-shattering media strategy is working to drag down Brown but it’s failing to boost eMeg herself. It’s hard to see where she can improve except among independents, where she is currently splitting the vote with Brown at 38% each.

If these are her most important target voters in the coming weeks, we can expect to see Whitman try to portray herself as a moderate on issues like climate change (which would mean NOT endorsing Prop. 23’s unraveling of California’s greenhouse-gas controls) and continuing to soften her language on illegal immigration.

The trick is to draw independents to her without angering her base vote among conservative Republicans who won’t be happy if she moves to the middle on any issue – especially climate change. But what are the right wingers going to do? Vote for Brown or refuse to vote, and thereby let Brown win? Probably not.

On the other hand, Brown – whose media campaign only began on Labor Day — is struggling to win the support he needs among independents, women, Latinos, voters in Los Angeles and even his own Democratic base.

Brown Whitman
Democrats 69 15
Republicans 9 75
Independents 38 38
Men 41 40
Women 41 41
Whites 40 44
Latinos* 43 40
LA County 38 41
Other SoCal 34 50
Central Valley 33 47
SF Bay Area 64 27
Other NorCal 36 36
Coastal 46 37
Inland 31 49
*very small sample
Field Poll 9/13/10

Because far more women are Democrats compared to Republicans, Whitman’s tie with Brown among women is remarkable. Moreover, if she really is pulling four-in-10 Latinos (and the sample is apparently not reliable, which the Field Poll should address in its next survey), then here, too, she is doing far better than your run-of-the-mill Republican.

Calbuzz is hampered in its analysis of the survey because we do not have access to the crosstabs. The Field Poll has refused to allow Calbuzz to become a paid subscriber to the survey and the results we have come from sources.

Whitman’s people will argue that the Field Poll shows their campaign is on target – that an unknown former CEO who had no political profile in California is running dead even with a man whose name is a household word in California politics and who has been in public life for more than half his 72 years.

But there’s a flaw in the argument in that Whitman, after spending record millions and throwing everything in the book at Brown, has failed thus far to knock him off his stride. And his media campaign has only just begun.

On Wednesday, Brown released a new ad attacking Whitman for advocating “eliminating the capital gains tax for wealthy investors, including herself.” Who this ad is supposed to move is unclear, but we guess it’s aimed at independents and moderates who are flirting with Whitman but might back away if they think she’ll bust the budget to benefit herself and her rich cronies.

When you look at the places where there’s room to expand their vote, Brown appears to have greater opportunities than does Whitman.

– He should kill Whitman among Latinos if he actually campaigned among them. If he put up Spanish-language ads mentioning her relationship with Pete Wilson (her campaign chairman) and her opposition to a path to citizenship (which 90% of Latinos favor), Brown would likely swamp her in that community.

– He should be beating her in LA County, where labor is strong, the Latino vote is big and coastal issues and offshore oil drilling are important. To do this, he’ll have to give voters there a reason to be FOR him, not just against Whitman.

– He should be doing much better among Democrats (especially younger voters who don’t know him) and women, both of whom he could be reaching with target mail, TV and radio, if he ever decides to spend the $30 million he’s stashed away.

On the other hand, if Whitman can improve her image among independents, women and Latinos, she well could pull out a victory. The new ad she released on Wednesday, with the tag line  “A governor ready on day one to start creating good jobs,” is aimed at reminding undecided voters of Hillary Clinton’s “Ready on day one” slogan and keep the emphasis on jobs (with no mention of cutting capital gains taxes).

Demonstrating her superior financial ability, Whitman also put up a new hit on Brown, charging that he failed to improve Oakland schools. Our prediction: the negative ad will get a lot more airtime than the positive one.

Despite all the sturm und drang of this campaign, the one big thing that has changed significantly in the past three months is that all the negative campaigning has driven up the number of undecided voters so that nearly two in 10 are now not sure who they’re for – if anyone.

The Field Poll surveyed 857 registered voters, including 599 likely voters, Sept. 14-21. The overall margin of error for the survey is +/- 4.1% and for likely voters it is +/- 5.8%. The data for this article are based on likely voters.