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Posts Tagged ‘gender’



How eMeg Should Play Gender; Rove Boosts Lungren

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

LONG BEACH — When Gov. Schwarzenegger, Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown join Matt Lauer, host of the “Today Show,”  for a four-way here today at Maria Shriver’s star-studded Women’s Conference, it’s supposed to be a civil, genteel, collegial discussion of the problems facing the Great State of California titled “Who We Are, Where We Are Going.” Isn’t that nice?

But for eMeg — who is trailing in all the public polls just one week before the election — it’s a last chance to squeeze off a big, fat, juicy sound bite that gets played all over the state and the country. And maybe — if Krusty sticks his smug, condescending foot in his mouth — she could put Brown on the defensive.

Jerry will be in protect-the-ball mode and Schwarzmuscle will probably be cruising on automatic statesman (unless he gets asked why he hasn’t endorsed fellow Republican Meg). So the big question is whether Whitman will break the rules and attack or challenge Brown.

Now, Team Whitman hasn’t listened to anything Calbuzz has ever suggested and they pretty much regard us as bad cheese (NB: we asked her to dinner and for an interview but never got either). But still we humbly offer this suggestion: Meg should say something like, “So, Jerry Brown has a long, long career working in the public sector, but you know what — it’s time for a woman to be governor. And I’m ready to do the job.” Or some such.

What’s Gandalf going to say? “No it’s not time for a woman. It’s time for a 72-year-old white guy.”

We kinda doubt eMeg will play the gender card. If she had wanted to, she could have put a gazillion dollars behind it in a TV ad. Feminism isn’t really in her wheelhouse. And as we wrote back in June, party is a much stronger motivator of the vote than is gender. But these are desperate times. She’s way behind among women voters and a rank appeal to sisterhood just might help — especially if she’s actually as close as her advisers have been furiously spinning in the past few days.

Whatever happens, the entire National Affairs Desk of Calbuzz — sparing no cost or effort — is here in Long Beach to capture the flavor and texture of the moment. If there is one. Otherwise, we’re just going to lunch.

How Rove Is Helping Lungren: Here’s a Special to Calbuzz from Mackenzie Weinger,  one of our vast array of political writers in Washington.

The number one target among House races for American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s so-called “Super PAC, is California’s 3rd congressional district.

American Crossroads recently made a $682,323 ad buy against physician Ami Bera (D), who is challenging Rep. Dan Lungren (R) in one of the state’s few close races. While the group has dumped millions into several Senate races across the country, this buy marks its biggest investment in any House campaign.

“It’s the biggest House buy, but it’s also the single most expensive media market we’ve purchased time in for the House,” American Crossroads spokesperson Jonathan Collegio told Calbuzz. “In terms of voter impression, it’s equal to most of our other efforts.”

Lucinda Guinn, Bera’s campaign manager, said the IE buy, although not coordinated with the Lungren campaign, should give residents an insight into the incumbent Republican’s priorities.

“We’ve mounted a very serious challenge to a career politician who didn’t see it coming, and now his big oil buddies and special interest friends are coming to bail him out because he’s nervous,” Guinn told us.

Attack ads from the rival’s campaigns have been hitting TV screens for weeks now, but American Crossroads’ is the biggest independent spending in the district’s media market.

Lungren released an ad this week, “Who is Ami Bera?”, calling Bera Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “handpicked candidate”— an attack that Republicans across the country are using. As for Bera, he made a splash earlier this month with “Shirts,” an ad that criticized Lungren for attending a 2008 conference in Hawaii with campaign funds. Although the trip was cleared by the House Ethics Committee, Bera’s campaign alleges Lungren exploited a loophole for a free vacation.

That’s just part of the Bera campaign’s focus on Lungren and campaign finance. The real concern, Guinn says, is what would happen if Republicans take the House on Nov. 2 and Lungren wins the Third District: as the ranking GOPer on the Committee on House Administration, Lungren is in line to become its chair.

“He would have jurisdiction over campaign finance regulation,” she noted. “He’s been looking out for his own folks for a long time – for big oil, Wall Street and his special interest friends.”

With his vote against the DISCLOSE Act and the recent influx of outside spending, Guinn said that “Lungren claims he supports campaign finance transparency, but he’s not saying anything about Karl Rove coming in” to the district.

“Outside groups and Karl Rove showing up in your living room is not what Californians care about,” she said.

Bera has written a blog post about Lungren and campaign finances that’s been making the rounds on the Internet. He writes that “Rove’s shadowy slush fund” is “hoping to hijack our election through false and misleading advertising.” Bera, who reported $448,859 cash on hand for the most recent filing period, is set to debut a new ad sometime this week, Guinn said.

But America Crossroads operative Collegio said that Lungren is the one under attack by special interests in the toss-up race.

“Lungren is heavily targeted by a well-funded opponent and a number of labor groups who wanted to defeat him in the general, and we believe our efforts serve a good balancing effect in the dynamics of the race,” he said.

He said the district is a critical one for Republicans, and added that the organization may release a new ad there this week.

“Every competitive race for control of the house is important, and while most of the focus has been on Republican pickups, it’s equally important to protect incumbents, especially when they’ve come under attack by outside organizations,” he said.

Check out the American Crossroads ad attacking Bera on health care reform:

Announcer: Not only does Ami Bera support Obamacare, he says it doesn’t go far enough. Obamacare’s $525B in job killing taxes isn’t far enough? The higher insurance premiums aren’t far enough? How about the $500B cut from Medicare? And reduced benefits for over 1.5 million California seniors? Ami Bera and Obamacare – They’re bad medicine for California. American Crossroads is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Speaking of ads: Here at Calbuzz we’re big fans of spots where the candidate contradicts him or herself or where a candidate is caught saying nice things about his or her opponent, to wit, this tasty morsel slapped together by Team Krusty with eMeg opening by saying , “You know, 30 years ago anything was possible in this state.” Followed by a black screen question and answer:  Who was governor 30 years ago? Jerry Brown.” Followed by the Peter Coyote voice-over recounting Brown’s accomplishments, followed in turn by a news station’s raw footage of Whitman saying, “I mean it’s why I came to California so many years ago.” Not sure how much dough Brown’s campaign will put behind it, but it’s a nice touch.

Meanwhile, Team eMeg unleashed yet another attack ad, this one accusing Brown of being a dishonest failure and a “job killer,” whose only plan for California is “more taxes, more spending and more lost jobs.” And he’s a tool of the unions and a liar, to boot. In case you were wondering.

Why Gender Won’t Help GOP Women Candidates

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Published jointly today in the Los Angeles Times

The dual nomination of Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina for governor and U.S. Senate in the state Republican primary was an historic event, but the candidates’ gender is unlikely to help them much in the November election.

The two became the first women ever chosen at the top of a GOP ticket in California, and their victories came amid much media discussion nationally about the breakthrough of “Republican feminists” and Sarah Palin’s excited forecast about the ascendancy of conservative “mamma grizzlies.”

However, a look back at California elections involving women candidates suggests that gender  won’t be a major factor in whether Fiorina or Whitman win or lose. Analysis of past voting data shows that:

– Party matters far more than gender in a general election.
– Gender matters most among independent women voters
– Neither Democratic nor independent women voters are likely to favor a candidate who is not pro-choice.

“Party, party, party,” answered Mark DiCamillo, director of the esteemed Field Poll, when asked if a candidates’ gender or partisan identification is more important in a general election.

“If you had to ask just one question that would predict how someone would vote, you’d want to ask their party,” he said.

Democratic consultant Bill Carrick, the chief strategist for Dianne Feinstein in 1990, when she became the first woman in California to win a major party’s nomination for governor, agreed:

“There’s no doubt that in candidate races the first and most salient factor in who you vote for is what political party do you belong to,” said Carrick, who also managed Feinstein’s historic campaign in 1992, when she and Barbara Boxer became the first female candidates to win a top office in the state, in what was dubbed the “Year of the Woman.”

In a late October Field Poll of the 1990 governor’s race, then-Republican Senator Pete Wilson led Feinstein, the former longtime mayor of San Francisco, by 47-39%, with 14% for others or undecided. At the time, he not only led 48-36% among men, who comprised 48 % of the electorate, but also 46-40% among women, who represented 52% of all voters.

At the time, Feinstein enjoyed relatively modest support within her own party, leading only 62-24% among Democrats. Wilson by contrast, led 76-12% among Republicans.

Days later, Wilson won the election 49-46%, as Feinstein gained considerable ground in the final days of the campaign; while there was no reliable exit poll on the race, it appears that many Democrats (a disproportionate number of whom are women), who had earlier held back, broke for their party’s candidate in the end.

Statistical support for that conclusion may be found in Los Angeles Times exit polling of the governor’s race four years later.

State Treasurer Kathleen Brown – the weakest Democratic candidate for governor in recent history – won 78% of her party’s vote in a bid against incumbent Gov. Pete Wilson, according to the survey. If Brown captured nearly eight in 10 Democrats in winning only 41% of the overall vote in 1994, it’s certain that Feinstein won at least as many with her stronger statewide performance four years earlier.

The 1994 Kathleen Brown-Pete Wilson race and the Feinstein-Michael Huffington Senate race the same year also offer clues about the relationship of party, gender and the abortion issue.

The pro-choice Wilson beat pro-choice Brown statewide by a resounding 55-41%. According to the Times exit poll, Wilson carried men 58-38% and women 52-43%, meaning Brown did somewhat better with women than with men.

But the numbers show that nearly all of the gender difference is explained by party.

Wilson won Republican men and women by 91-6% each and also carried independents: 57-34% among men and 54-39% among women; as she did among Democrats, Brown did somewhat better among independent women than she did with independent men.

Independents represented only about 16% of the electorate in 1994 (they are about 20% today). Brown’s pick-up of overall women voters was based on winning Democrats 78-19%, in a year when Democrats accounted for more than 4 in 10 voters (Democrats are now 44% of registered voters) and the party’s voting ranks included considerably more women than men.

The same year, Feinstein barely beat Huffington, 47-45%. A key difference between Kathleen Brown and Feinstein in 1994, however, was that the Senator attracted larger numbers of independent women and even made some inroads among Republican women,

Like Wilson, Huffington was pro-choice. Feinstein won 83% of Democratic men and 84% of women Democrats, while Huffington carried 83% of GOP men but just 75% of the party’s women. She won independent women, 51-36%, while independent men favored him 44-39%.

So Feinstein ran stronger with women voters than men, both among Republicans and independents – even though both candidates were pro-choice. This shows that it’s possible for a Democratic woman to pull some votes from the opposite party and from independents based on gender, in a race where abortion rights are not a determinative factor.

The 2010 Senate race pits the strongly pro-life Fiorina against the fiercely pro-choice Boxer. Since both are women, gender is likely to play even less of a role than usual. And Fiorina will have a tough battle,  as no pro-life candidate has won at the top of the ticket (president, governor or senator) in California since 1988, when George Bush beat Michael Dukakis.

The Whitman-Brown race is a different matter. “For a socially moderate, pro-choice woman like Meg Whitman, there’s some segment of the electorate that will take a closer look at her than they would if it were a white male with the same positions on the issues,” said political consultant Garry South, who guided Democrat Gray Davis to his gubernatorial victory in 1998 1994.

Running against the pro-choice Jerry Brown, however, Whitman will likely find it difficult to woo Democratic women voters to her side, just as Kathleen Brown could not lure Republican women away from Wilson in 1994. The Feinstein-Huffington race suggests, however, that Whitman’s gender could help her among independent women who are not aligned with Democratic positions on other issues.

The single greatest uncertainty in the governor’s race, however, may not be a function of gender or party, but of money. Said South, noting Whitman’s prediction of how much of her personal fortune she may spend: “There’s no playbook for somebody who’s going to spend $150 million.”

How eMeg’s Spending Is Like Quantum Physics

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

In the study of physics, the “standard quantum limit” is the point at which the precise magnitude of a physical quantity can no longer be measured.

Two months before the primary election for governor, Meg Whitman’s unprecedented campaign spending — including another cool $20 million tossed in late Monday — has hit the standard quantum limit of politics: its effect on the governor’s race has moved into unknowable territory.

To any would-be prognosticator, seer or soothsayer Calbuzz offers this verbum sapienti: Like scientists mulling data from the Large Hadron Collider, we have no idea what the effect of $100-150 million in campaign spending will do in a California statewide election, because we’ve never seen anything like it.

As the new USC/LA Times poll makes clear, billionaire political novice eMeg has thus far used a record-shattering $47 million plus to bury primary rival Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner deep beneath a 40-point lead. Confirming earlier PPIC and Field  surveys, she’s also edged slightly ahead of Democrat Jerry Brown, the Attorney General, who’s surely contemplating the uncertainties of running against Quantum Mechanics Meg and her possible $150 million campaign fund.

As Lou Cannon wrote in Politics Daily last week:

“Given Brown’s long preoccupation with campaign finance, there is a touch of irony to his present predicament… Brown seems shaken by the magnitude of the Whitman commercials. He complained during my interview that Whitman had reduced “the public space of America to a 30-second commercial on sports and entertainment shows.” Later, again deploring Whitman’s spending, he said. “The future of our very way of government is at stake in this election.”

Some among the cognoscenti wonder if voters will, at some point, find a chalk-on-a-blackboard cognitive dissonance created by a candidate who spends with no limits  to become  governor in order to cut spending.

Others suggest that as Whitman’s spending keeps growing exponentially, it will bump up against some outer limit where cash begins to have diminishing returns, or even a negative impact, as voters find repulsive her free-spending ways amid the state’s worst recession in a generation.

If so, she sure hasn’t hit that limit yet. As USC/Times and other polls make clear:

1-For now, at least, the pro-choice Whitman has erased the gender gap that has historically benefited Democratic candidates in statewide races. In the USC/Times poll she led 44-38% among women; in the other two big independent surveys, Whitman and Brown were essentially tied: 45-43% in her favor in the Field Poll and 43-40% for Brown in PPIC.

2-She’s splitting the independents and is virtually tied among moderates, while Brown has yet to consolidate even six in 10 Democrats and just two thirds of the liberals.

3-Her as-yet-unchallenged campaign narrative — declaring business experience a crucial credential for running government – may be preposterous in the wake of the banking and derivative scandals and a worldwide recession, but it’s making some inroads among California voters: In last fall’s USC/LAT poll, voters were divided evenly on whether business or government experience was the best qualification. Now, business experience has a slight plurality – 40-35%.

As our friend Cathy Decker of the Los Angeles Times put it: “The survey demonstrated how thoroughly Whitman, the billionaire former head of eBay, has dominated the California elections thus far.”

About 65% of all voters say they’ve seen TV ads and 75% of those people have seen Whitman ads. The effect is powerful.

Jesse Contario of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (one of the firms that did the poll) told Calbuzz that voters who have seen Whitman ads favor her 53-40% over Brown, compared to voters who have not seen ads at all, who favor Brown 40-33%. Moreover, among voters who say they’ve seen ads, but not Whitman’s (i.e., they’ve seen Poizner ads or think they’ve seen ads for Brown), Brown leads 48-36%.

Calbuzz told you back in March: eMeg’s money — now $59 million of her own invested — is moving voters. But maybe not as much as you might think.

Whitman’s favorable-to-unfavorable ratio was 17-14% in the USC/LA Times poll last fall; now it’s 30-23% — a net improvement of just 4%. That’s not a lot to show for $47 million, especially when just 8% of her support is very favorable.

Fortunately for Brown, very little of Meg’s increased favorability has come from Democrats and independents. In fact, her Democratic favorability went down from 12-19 in the fall to 21-31 now – a net decrease of 3%, while her independent favorability went from 16-14% in the fall to 25-21% now, a net improvement of just 2%.

eMeg’s big jump came among Republicans who favored her 26-8% in the fall but 47-12% now – a net pick-up of 35 percentage points.

Moreover, while Whitman is beating Brown 50-38% among white voters, she’s losing blacks 45-22% (a number that historically seems likely to move to about 90-10% by the end of the race) and 52-29% among Latinos (even before Whitman’s views on immigration and Brown’s history with Latinos have been put out there).

“Her $47 million has grown her name ID but hasn’t cemented any strong feelings for her candidacy,” said Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer.

Still, for Brown, the political standard quantum limit factor poses a dilemma.

Although his campaign fund of $15 million might seem impressive in any other year, in 2010 it suggests that in the end he will be able to afford 12 to 15 weeks of advertising.

For Brown, the question is when he goes on the air.

Conventional wisdom holds that he should save his resources until the fall, when voters are paying more attention and he can close the argument. But the quantum physics of Whitman’s spending have blown out all the theories of conventional wisdom.

Brown can expect to be battered on a daily basis by Whitman starting with the day after the primary – or even before – and he needs to think about stopping the bleeding before she has totally defined him and herself and he’s in a Poizner-like hole too deep to escape.

But if he goes on the air now and tries to knock Meg down a peg, he’ll burn through resources he’ll desperately need when he’s facing down the barrel of a huge cannon this fall.

Democratic Gov. Gray Davis had to make a decision in the winter of 2001, when former LA Mayor Dick Riordan, the favorite to become the Republican candidate against him, started gaining popularity among Democrats and independents.

In order to keep him from making further inroads into Davis’s base, Davis went on the air and attacked Riordan from the left on abortion. Little did they know that the attack would also weaken Riordan among Republicans, causing his candidacy to collapse.

Brown, it appears from the USC/LA Times poll anyway, does not yet have a similar problem. Whitman’s favorability among Democrats and independents has not grown and Brown still has an edge among self-described moderates, 44-41%. This helps explain why Brown’s campaign brain trust feels confident in holding fire while Meg continues to spend millions.

At the same time, if Brown was counting on Poizner to take a bite out of eMeg, he’s likely to be disappointed.

The embarrassing spectacle of Poizner being booed and picketed by hundreds of high school students, teachers and administrators from Mt. Pleasant High last week, after hoping to boost his chances by writing a feel-good book about them, is just the latest misstep in a campaign that has been full of them.

As eMeg henchman Mike Murphy tweeted last week: @stevepoizner gives a master class in how to turn a campaign puffery book into an utter disaster. Typical TV newsclip: http://bit.ly/dirAyU.

Ouch.

eMeg Proves Beatles Wrong; Money Buys Her Love

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

[Update: We now have the poll in hand and will confirm all our numbers.]

Holy mole, we said (having just returned from Mexico), when we heard (from actual subscribers to the Field Poll) that eMeg Whitman has jumped to a 49-point lead over Steve “The Commish” Poizner in the Republican primary for governor and skittered to a three-point edge over Democrat Crusty the General Brown in the general election.

Here at Calbuzz, which our good friends at the Field Poll considers too bootleg to take on as a paid subscriber, we wondered: With eMeg leading Poiz 63-14%, why shouldn’t we just declare him done and call for the fork?

“Because,” said his spokesguy Jarrod Agen, “it’s still too early. The voters know little about Meg. She’s run a couple of positive spots that haven’t laid out any solutions. Steve’s commercials [which we haven’t seen yet] will lay out real solutions and when voters compare the two they’re going to choose the guy who will cut taxes across the board and cut benefits to illegal immigrants over an online auction CEO.”

What else can he say? His guy’s favorable-unfavorable ratio is 16-32%, including 12-30% among Democrats, 17-32% among non-partisans and just 20-34% among Republicans. Oy.

With the help of about $40 in total spending and an estimated $13 million on cable and broadcast advertising, eMeg favorable-unfavorable is now 40-27%, including 24-36% among Democrats, 46-22% among non-partisans and 56-16% among Republicans. Thereby proving that the Beatles were wrong: money CAN buy you some love.

The margin of error in the Field Poll, we are told, was plus-or-minus 5.5 percentage points among 353 likely Republican primary voters. But eMeg’s lead is so big and so broad, error margins have no meaning.

The 3.7% margin among 748 likely November voters is more relevant, since Field found eMeg leading Crusty 46-43% — a convincing 13-point shift from January when Brown led Whitman 46-36% — but within the margin of error.

We don’t have the actual Field Poll in hand and Mark DiCamillo won’t talk to us until after the actual subscribers have published their stories, but if we have the data right, it’s clear that Whitman has picked up ground on Brown, especially among independents. While Brown leads 69-20% among Democrats and Whitman leads 77-13% among Republicans, eMeg also now leads among non-partisans 50-36%.

Moreover, while Brown has a gigonda lead among the liberals who make up 20% of the electorate and Whitman has a healthy lead among conservatives who make up 35% of the voters, they’re just about dead even (Whitman 43%, Brown 42%) over the middle-of-the-road voters who make up 45% of the voting public.

Interestingly, there seems to be little gender effect in the Whitman-Brown contest: Whitman leads 45-43% among women and 47-43% among men.

Brown’s hold on the older voters who remember him best, however, appears somewhat fragile: if the Field Poll is to be believed (and if we’ve got it right), Brown leads by 10 points among voters age 18-39, but trails by 7 points among those 40-64 and by 10 points among those 65 and older. We’ll look more closely at the age issue when we can talk to the folks at Field and when the Public Policy Institute of California comes out with their poll next week.

BTW: According to Field, Brown’s overall favorable-unfavorable ratio is just 41-37%; among Democrats it is 60-20%, it’s 38-34% among non-partisans and 19-60% among Republicans.

It’s hard to argue with Brown spokesperson Sterling Clifford (aka Clifford Sterling) when he notes: “Meg Whitman has spent a year and $40 million running for governor and what that’s accomplished is that she’s in a virtual dead heat with Jerry Brown, who launched his campaign two weeks ago.”

One area where Poizner’s money could have an effect is among conservative voters who, for now, seem OK with Whitman. Poizner has been hammering Whitman in public appearances and web materials as a squish. But he hasn’t done much of that on TV. As a result, Meg leads Brown among those voters who identify a lot with the Tea Party movement by 87-8% and she leads among those who identify somewhat 75-17%. If Poizner makes her out of be a liberal in conservative clothing, those numbers could drop.

Which would be good news to Brown, who leads Whitman 58-29% among the 67% of voters who say they do not identify with or don’t know anything about the Tea Party movement.