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Posts Tagged ‘latino voters’



GOP Fail: Meyer, Oprah and Voter Orgasms in Spain

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

In a week when the flimsy line between politics and entertainment grew teenier than ever, Calbuzz cartoonist Tom Meyer offers some sage strategic advice to California Republicans, who are desperate to gain support among women and Latinos – two crucial groups whose strong Democratic ties help explain why the Golden State grew bluer than ever in the year of the GOP’s red tide.

While Oprah has been broadcast in Spanish for more than two years now,  the big brains running the California Republican Party apparently haven’t gotten the memo, as GOP state chairman Ron Nehring blames his party’s pathetic statewide showing on a failure of “communications” in “brand” marketing.

“The leadership is brain-dead,” countered longtime Republican operative Tony Quinn, in a somewhat more succinct analysis offered to the Sacbee’s ubiquitous Jack Chang. “The demographic problem is Republicans have become a party of old white people, and these are people who really want an idealistic view such as what they think existed in California 50 years ago.”

Despite Neanderthal Nehring’s argument that the state GOP just needs to do a better job of advertising the popularity of their ideas among the Fred Flinstone cohort, the latest data from the L.A, Times/USC poll (see here here and here ) strongly suggests otherwise, as the always-worth-reading Cathleen Decker reported: “The party faces a critical collision between its own voters, a minority in California, and those it needs to attract to win.”

So in grateful return for that non-stop flood of “ICYMI” memos the state GOP sent our way in 2010, here’s a Calbuzz version backatcha.


Fun with numbers: In prize-winning fashion, Jerry Brown never tired of reminding voters that Meg Whitman’s not-very-original definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

But you gotta’ hand to Her Megness for persistence: she never let her own clichés stand in the way of her crazed and delusional determination that she could be elected governor if she just kept tossing good money after bad; our gal pitched a last-gasp $2.6 million of pin money into her campaign on election day, bringing the personal megabucks investment in her one-for-the-history books Really Big Fail to $144,155,806.11.

Putting aside the $30 million or so in chump change she raised from fellow plutocrats, that works out to an average of $228,460.86 per day — $9,519.20 per hour, $158.60 per minute and $2.64 per second – 24/7, each and every one of the 631 days she was in the race. (The final final numbers, still not available, will make for some really impressive gee whiz computations.)

If that seems a bit…excessive…consider this: as a political matter, the net effect of the money was to win Whitman 41% of the statewide vote total; that’s only 10% above the Republican 31% share of statewide registration – or $14 million per percentage point above the base vote she would have won if she hadn’t spent a penny.

For comparison’s sake, the GOP candidates for Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner, none of whom had bupkus to spend, averaged 37% of the statewide vote, meaning all of eMeg’s loot basically  bought her an extra 4% of the vote – or $35 million per percentage point.

Oh well. From what we hear, at least the checks cleared for all of the brilliant strategists and consultants who fleeced her rode the gravy train while it lasted. God, we miss her already.

For those keeping score at home: When she writes her next self-serving memoir – “The Power of Money”? – at least eMeg will have the satisfaction of letting readers know that, despite shattering all records for most dollars spent on a political race in the U.S. ,the $57 per vote she forked out was peanuts compared to the $97 that World Wrestling Entertainment crotch kicker CEO Linda McMahon lavished on each Nutmegger who cast a ballot for her losing Republican bid for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut.

And as long as we’re talking mondo money, it’s worth noting that the biggest single spender on the initiative side of the ballot wasn’t the CTA, the CCPOA or the California Chamber of Commerce; as Tracey Kaplan reports in a nice Murky News piece, that honor goes to Charles T. Munger, Jr., a Stanford physics geek who tossed $12.6 million of his own fortune into Proposition 20, the measure taking away from the legislature the power to draw new lines for congressional seats and giving it to an independent reapportionment commission.

“You need to go into the world and do something that’s needed,” said Munger, 54. “So I gave California fair elections. I gave the voters back their democracy.”

Of course, the big difference between Munger and Whitman is that he, you know, won.

Memo to Ron Nehring (eyes only): Maybe this approach might work with women voters next time around.  Seems consistent with that whole “personal liberty” thing, anyway.

Five Ways eMeg Blew Her Campaign for Governor

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

In June 2009, a few months after she launched her campaign to become governor of California, Meg Whitman abruptly fired Nicky Diaz Santillan, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who had served as her housekeeper for nine years.

No one knew it at the time, but Whitman’s words and action in the privacy of her home on June 20, and on the phone four days later, would sow the seeds of her political loss, a debacle that will define her forever as the billionaire who spent more money on a political race than anyone in history and won nothing but a humiliating defeat.

Recollections differ sharply about exactly what happened when Whitman sent Diaz packing. The former eBay CEO insisted she was gracious and caring toward someone she saw as a “member of her extended family.” It broke her heart, she said at one point; only later did she suggest Nicky  should be deported.

At a Sept. 29 press conference with LA Ambulance Chaser Gloria Allred, Diaz said Whitman was cruel and heartless and insisted that her lawyer had told her there was nothing to be done.

“From now on, you don’t know me and I don’t know you,” Diaz said Whitman told her on the phone. “You never have seen me and I have never seen you.”

What Nicky revealed about Meg: The precise details of the episode may remain fuzzy – but its political impact is crystal clear. In the end, the Diaz story dealt two grave wounds that doomed Whitman’s candidacy:

First, the Republican nominee’s memorable Oct. 1 press conference responding to Diaz’s allegations was a public relations disaster. A real-time, real-life event, it was one of only a handful of times that California voters would see Whitman in public, outside of the carefully scripted and controlled campaign events or the unprecedented barrage of TV ads that she beamed into their living rooms. And polls would show that the unfavorable image they already had of the candidate would only grow more negative.

More broadly, Whitman’s handling of the Diaz affair – and her improbable insistence that she had no idea that Diaz was illegal and baseless accusation that Nicky stole the mail — underscored a central failing of her $160+ million effort. Ralph Whitehead of the University of Massachusetts once explained that in an executive leader, voters look for someone with a hard head and a soft heart. Whitman surely passed the first test. But her handling of Nicky Diaz – which had already occurred and could not be fixed – exposed her as a rich woman with the hardest of hearts.

She might, back then, have mitigated the damage that came later if she had done what most human beings would do for someone who had cleaned their toilets for nine years: hire her an immigration attorney, give her severance pay, help her find a new job. Whitman did none of those things. Voters – especially Latinos and women – concluded she was, at best, not like them and, at worst, inhuman.

“I could not be any prouder of the race we ran,” Whitman said in a farewell letter to supporters on her campaign web page. It’s a typical statement from a woman who could never admit a mistake, whether it was flipping IPO shares, booting her maid to the curb or refusing to pull down her negative ads when implored to do so in front of 14,000 women.

Because Whitman’s debacle cost an unprecedented sum – including about $142 million of her own money – it will be endlessly dissected by pundits, pros and political scientists alike. Calbuzz covered the race for 20 months, and our archive is filled with reporting, analysis and candid commentary about what we saw as its weaknesses from the beginning. Here is a look at eMeg’s five biggest blunders:

-She never gave people a reason to be for her. At some point, some determined academic will calculate the percentage of negative to positive ads that Whitman ran. Our bet is that at least three-fourths were attacks, first on her primary opponent Steve Poizner and later on Jerry Brown.

Whitman came out swinging early last winter against Poizner, long before most Californians had any idea who Steve Poizner was. After she captured the GOP nomination in June, she almost immediately started bashing Brown. The net effect: the first thing that many people came to learn about Meg Whitman was that she was mean-spirited.

The Murphy-Stutzman-Gomez consultant brain trust programmed their meal ticket to chant jobs, budget and education, which she did. These were to be the decisive issues that would drive Whitman to victory. What they overlooked was that they were running a billionaire newcomer who could not connect by eating chili dogs and traveling in a green bus.

Whitman needed to convince voters of the most critical question that Brown’s pollster, Jim Moore, asks in surveys: Which candidate best fits this description — Has the knowledge and skill to be governor?

But beyond endlessly identifying herself as the person who ran eBay, the Whitman campaign never really introduced their candidate to voters, never gave Californians more than a mantra of political platitudes and a few quick images of her and her husband when they were younger.

Who, in the end, was she? Why hadn’t she voted for 28 years? How come she’d never been engaged in a single civic project? Why did she lie about things she had no reason to lie about – like how government interference slowed down building a new headquarters for Pay Pal, or her position on offshore oil drilling or whether one of her ads included a shot of a border fence?

Calbuzz christened her “eMeg” at the beginning of the race and, in a very real sense, she never told us more about herself than that, which may be why the name stuck, and spread into publications across the country.

-She couldn’t handle the immigration issue. One of the big unanswered questions about the campaign remains what Whitman’s handlers knew about the Diaz matter and when they knew it. Either she told them the full details of the matter and they did nothing about it, which would amount to political malpractice on their part, or she kept the story to herself, which would amount to felony stupidity on her part.

After Whitman told reporters that she had informed her top advisers about the Nicky Diaz events, Calbuzz tried to ask her consultants what they’d been told and when. That’s when her top people stopped speaking to Calbuzz at all. That was more than a month ago. There was no way to answer our question without throwing either themselves or their candidate under the bus. So they just froze us out until we said we wouldn’t ask the question any more.

One of the reasons that the Diaz issue gained such traction was that Whitman offered up a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of positions on illegal immigration. When Poizner made it the centerpiece of his primary campaign, she tacked hard right, enlisting campaign chairman Pete Wilson – the former governor known on the streets of Mexico City as hijo de puta — to cut an ad declaring she would be “tough as nails.” But as soon as the primary ended, she lurched back to the center, with an expensive effort to woo Latino voters, a baldly transparent move that came across as crass opportunism, if not utter hypocrisy.

Once the personal became enmeshed with the political on the issue, she could never untangle herself. She couldn’t help Nicky Diaz become legal because she had taken a stand against a path to citizenship – a policy endorsed by most California voters, including about nine in 10 Latinos.

And she made matters much worse at the Univision debate in Fresno when she told a young Mexican-born woman – valedictorian in her high-school class about to graduate from Fresno State – that she was taking the place at the university of a legitimate California citizen. Any non-white parent hearing that would have been appalled at her utter lack of compassion.

No wonder the LA Times reported that exit polls found Latinos voted 2-to-1 for Brown.

-She didn’t have dinner with Calbuzz. Our standing dinner invitation to eMeg, first issued on Labor Day 2009, became a running joke on our site and elsewhere. But her refusal to sit down with us in an informal setting came to symbolize something greater – a contempt for the press in general, founded on her arrogant belief that she had enough money and power to go over the heads of the media.

Whitman gave an interview to Michael Finnegan of the LA Times the day after she announced her candidacy, and she made several stumbles in it, as he pointed out. For whatever reason, she reacted to that experience not by seeking to learn from her mistakes, but by walling herself from the press forever.

Far more serious than stiffing us for dinner was her refusal throughout the campaign to grant an interview to the venerable San Francisco Chronicle, the second largest newspaper in the state; when she refused to meet with the paper’s editorial board, as every candidate for governor in memory has done, it evinced nothing more than contempt, if not abject fear.

The press corps roiled with tales of interview requests ignored or turned down and, at one point, she even refused to answer questions at a press conference she had called. The net effect was to send a message that Whitman had something to hide, that she was afraid to engage in the normal give and take between politicians and reporters, and it raised suspicions among voters.

Not that anyone in the real world cares about whether reporters have access. They don’t mind if a candidate stiffs the media, if she speaks to them, mingles with them, does something other than staged events with phony, planted questions. People care about media access only to the extent that it’s a surrogate for their access

With her retinue of consultants, pollsters and handlers, Whitman presented herself to the public as being more important and too insulated to understand people like them. It is telling that the California Nurses Association character of Queen Meg, who followed her around the state, drove eMeg crazy, because it cut too close to the truth.

Worse, according to a variety of political consultants from the left and right, Whitman’s failure to get out among the media early in the campaign, where she could make mistakes and learn from them, rendered her brittle and unstable at the end of the campaign, when she needed to be sure on her feet. Whitman’s consultants failed to help her handle the unscripted moments of the campaign — and it was in those moments that voters saw who she really is.

The ultimate example occurred at the Women’s Conference in Long Beach, where she managed to get herself booed by 14,000 women by her mishandling of an idiotic proposal from the “Today Show’s” Matt Lauer to take down her negative advertising. “Of course I will, Matt,” she could have said. “As soon as Jerry Brown Inc. takes down their attack ads on me.”  A seasoned pro could have knocked it out of the park. Just days before the election, she was still a rookie.

When it became clear in the final weeks of the campaign that she was losing, she resorted to driving around in a bus and ordering junk food at diners in a by now pathetically too late effort to “reintroduce” herself to the public.

-She ran only one memorable ad and that blew up in her face. It is astonishing that Whitman spent more than $100 million on paid television advertising and even those of us who covered the campaign would be hard pressed to recall any of them that penetrated.

The sole exception was an ad she put up after Labor Day featuring an excerpt from a 1992 presidential primary debate between Brown and Bill Clinton, in which Clinton attacks Brown on many of the same issues Whitman was trying to press.

At first it looked like a killer ad. But when Brown and his fellow Democrats quickly produced, first, a statement from Clinton and then the former president himself to back Brown and assail Whitman for misusing the comments, it backfired on her. Things went from bad to worse when the former CNN reporter whose long-ago TV story was the basis for the whole controversy came forward to say he’d made a big factual error – and Whitman still refused to take down her ad.

This was a Big Moment in the campaign because it shifted the ground precisely where Team eMeg did not want the campaign to go – away from issues and toward character. The ad was mainly about the issues, in particular Proposition 13 and taxes, and secondarily about Brown’s truthfulness. Here was an icon of the Democratic Party saying Jerry Brown could not be trusted on taxes and spending. That was the single most dangerous charge Brown faced. But the ad turned out to be an exploding cigar. When Clinton repudiated it and Whitman defended it anyway, the story shifted to “liar, liar, pants on fire.” And what Team eMeg did NOT want was a campaign about Whitman’s character.

No one should have been surprised that the LATimes/USC survey found that among likely voters Brown had her beat 2-1 when rated on the quality of “tells the truth.”

-She ran as a brand and over-saturated the market. Months ago, Brown’s campaign manager Steve Glazer predicted to us that the race would be about authenticity, with Whitman, fundamentally a marketing executive whose closest confidant, Henry Gomez, was also a marketing guy, trying to brand herself and Brown, a lifelong public official, running as the real deal.

Calbuzz recognized the danger presented by Whitman’s unlimited marketing budget when we laid out how the “standard quantum limit” could inevitably affect perceptions of voters in a political campaign – even one as big as a California governor’s race.

“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,” we wrote back in April.

“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.”

Lo and behold, that’s what happened. Whitman’s advertising became so ubiquitous, so intrusive, that voters found her in their living rooms, uninvited, at all hours of the day and night. It didn’t take long before Whitman’s branding campaign ran up against another scientific principle: The T Factor.

This strong force, according to the Calbuzz Department of Weights and Measures, is based on the power of  Tivo to mute and completely skip advertisements, especially nauseating political spots; it is greater than, or equal to, a voter’s curiosity about what an ad might have to say. (This is represented by the formula T≥b*X, where b=bullshit and X=off.)

Certain political consultants will, of course, dismiss this theorem out of hand because if candidates were to believe it, they would make less money. But not only did Whitman’s advertising over-saturate the market (diminishing exponentially the stickiness of later ads) but they actually fed Brown’s narrative about her: that she was a greedy billionaire with too much money to spend and too little respect for ordinary people.

Every new ad had to overcome that revulsion before its content had a chance of being heard and processed. And in the end, voters just tuned her out.

Giants Win! Now, the Krusty vs. eMeg Showdown

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

“This is a very important election. It is a battle for the soul of California,” Meg Whitman said at her last full-scale campaign rally in Burbank on Sunday. She got it half right.

This is indeed a very important election. But it’s not a battle for the soul of anything.

It’s a battle for the reins of power in the governor’s office. That will surely have a profound effect on what happens in the next four years: how the state budget will be crafted, who will run massive agencies, who will sit on the bench, who will speak for California, how the Legislature and the executive branch will or will not work together and much more.

But California’s soul — if such a thing can be said to exist at all — is not a subject that can be determined by the ballot box. To the extent that it can be identified, it’s the collective actions of men and women of extraordinary diversity, most of whom who will not vote today, in their daily lives.

The Nicki factor: That Whitman does not understand this became clear on Sept. 29 when her former housekeeper, Nicky Diaz, recounted the events of June 2009 ; it was then that Whitman, upon learning that her employee of nine years was an illegal immigrant, abruptly fired her, doing nothing to help a Mexican national who also is part of the soul of California.

This iconic moment in the campaign — in which Diaz charged Whitman had told her “You don’t know me and I don’t know you” – spoke volumes about the Republican billionaire to Latinos, to women and to working people whom Whitman had been trying to convince that she could be counted on to protect their interests as she led California back to prosperity.

If Whitman loses today, many pundits will point to the Nicky Diaz press conference with attorney Gloria Allred, and eMeg’s shaky response to it, as the crucial turning point in the long campaign.

Jerry Brown, however, rejects that notion.

Calbuzz asked him on Monday, after a spirited rally in Salinas, to what extent he thinks the Diaz story was the defining event of the race.

“I think the first debate and the ads that I was putting on that were pretty positive and communicated a real sense of who I was,” he said. “I think that started turning it and, of course, the subsequent events just intensified the trend that had already started.”

The straightforward ad referenced by Brown, his first TV spot, was made by Joe Trippi. In it,  narrator Peter Coyote said that when Brown was governor in the 1970s and ‘80s:

“He cut waste, got rid of the mansion and the limo; budgets were balanced; four billion in tax cuts; world-class schools and universities; clean energy promoted; one-point nine million new jobs created. California was working.”

Then Brown looked straight into the camera, said, “California needs major changes. We have to live within our means. We have to return power and decision-making to the local level, closer to the people. And no new taxes without voter approval.”

The takeaway line from Coyote: “Jerry Brown: the knowledge and know-how to get California working again.”

As for the first debate, which came the day before the Diaz-Allred press conference, Whitman came across as well-prepared, smart and somewhat robotic, while Brown, with self-deprecating remarks and humor, seemed more at ease and authentic.

Subsequent polling would find that voters – especially women, Latinos and independents – were seeing Brown as someone who understands problems of people like them, while they were having a hard time finding Whitman likeable.

On Monday in Salinas, Brown offered a good example of the tone and style which recent surveys suggest voters have found more accessible and appealing than Whitman’s corporate branding image.

“I’m really excited about another opportunity and if the people give me that opportunity tomorrow night you can be sure that you’re going to get somebody who on day one knows where all the bodies are buried in Sacramento.

In fact, I buried most of them. And I know where all the skeletons are and what closets they’re in ‘cause I left a few when I left – they’re still there.”

As for eMeg, it was notable that after a long campaign, in which she spent more money than in any previous race in any state in America, most of it on paid advertising, she spent her last day focused on get-out-the-vote operations, the most mundane and humble of political tasks:

We are going to win this because we’re going to turn out the vote.

Today, finally, we’ll find out.



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.

LAT/USC Poll: The Center is Holding for Brown, Boxer

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Months ago, Jerry Brown’s campaign manager, Steve Glazer, told us he thought the race for governor between his guy and Meg Whitman would either be very, very close or a blow-out for Brown. With Whitman spending more than $160 million thus far and her spinmeisters claiming that their private polling was showing the race neck-and-neck, most analysts have been reluctant to acknowledge that public surveys have consistently shown Brown breaking away.

That’s hard to do today with the big Los Angeles Times/USC survey finding Democrat Brown — with overwhelming support from independents, moderates, Latinos and women — leading Republican Whitman 52-39% among likely voters, compared to 49-44% last month. And that’s with a survey model that gives the GOP a huge enthusiasm advantage, pegging likely voters at 44% Democrat and 40% Republican – far closer than the 13% difference between them in official registration.

Among key constituencies who tilt the balance in statewide races in California, Brown leads 61-24% among independents, 59-30% among moderates and 61-27% among Latinos – not to mention his 55-34% advantage among women, who comprised 53% of the LAT/USC likely voter universe.[Results and crosstabs here.]

The survey also shows Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer with a smaller but still hefty 8-point lead over Republican Carly Fiorina – 50-42% — with Fiorina doing better among conservative-leaning constituencies than Whitman, especially in the Central Valley. Like Brown, Boxer has consolidated the vote among classic Democratic blocs and she has huge leads in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Despite heavy breathing from the national press corps, the race is essentially unchanged in the LAT/USC survey, from 51-43% last month.

The poll suggests – as did another from the Public Policy Institute of California last week – that Whitman has been unable to develop support beyond the conservative, Republican base vote in Southern California and rural areas of the state. Despite all the money she has spent on television commercials, key blocs of voters – including women, Latinos and middle-of-the-road Californians — just don’t like her.

While Brown’s overall favorability is nothing to write home about – 48% favorable versus 44% unfavorable, at least Krusty is on the plus side. eMeg is below water at 37% favorable and 52% unfavorable. About seven in 10 Republicans and conservatives give her favorable marks, but  among independents, only 18% have a favorable view of her compared to 69% with an unfavorable view; Latinos have a 2-to-1 unfavorable view of her at 26-52% and women are fed up with her too – 33% favorable compared to 55% unfavorable.

Exactly what women find objectionable about Whitman is hard to pin down from the LAT/USC data. But here’s one clue: When asked how well Whitman handled her “nanny situation,” 38% of women said “well” and 54% said not “well.” (BTW, 26% of Latinos said “well” compared to 68% who said not “well.”)

Brown was also judged better than Whitman in terms of understanding people, speaking plainly, knowing how to get the job done and, by-2-to-1, telling the truth. The 54-year-old Whitman had only slightly better marks than the 72-year-old Brown on having the energy to get the job done and being decisive.

In the Senate race, Boxer and Fiorina each are pulling about eight in 10 votes from of their own party vote, but Boxer has a big 58-26% lead among independents and a 59-31% lead among moderates. Fiorina is leading Boxer in Southern California outside of LA 51-39% and in the Central Valley 53-40% which is why she’s running closer to Boxer than Whitman is to Brown.

Boxer’s favorability is pretty weak – 44% favorable and 50% unfavorable. But it’s better than Fiorina’s – 36% favorable and 43% unfavorable. Importantly for Boxer, independents like her a lot more than they do Fiorina: 50-42% favorable for Boxer compared to 16-60% unfavorable for Fiorina. And while women aren’t exactly wild about Boxer – 47-46% on the favorable side – they don’t care for Fiorina at all: they rate her 32% favorable and 45% unfavorable.

The Democratic firm Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner and the Republican firm American Viewpoint conducted the poll for the Los Angeles Times and the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, calling landlines and cellphones Oct. 13-20.  A random sample of 1,501 California registered voters were called, including an oversample of Latino respondents for a total of 460 Latino interviews. The survey identified 922 likely voters for whom the margin of error is +/- 3.2%. The margin of error for Latinos is +/- 4.6%.

To be included in the likely voter sample, respondents must have voted in 2006 and 2008, said they were “almost certain” or “probably” going to vote in 2010 and rated their enthusiasm about voting as 5 or higher on a 10-point scale. Those who registered since the 2008 election were included if they met the enthusiasm standard and said they are “almost certain” to vote this time around. Likely voters also included those said they have already have voted by mail — about 7% of voters surveyed.