Quantcast

Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Times’



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.

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.”

A Year Out, Gov’s Race Lacks a “Change” Candidate

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

darwin-300x300One year before the 2010 election, Gavin Newsom’s abrupt withdrawal from the governor’s race leaves the campaign without a candidate conveying the message most aligned with California’s zeitgeist of the moment: a call for sweeping reform.

With Attorney General Jerry Brown the lone (if still formally undeclared) Democratic candidate, and a Republican field of former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, ex-Congressman Tom Campbell, and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, the race now presents two fundamental, thematic choices:

Brown and Campbell argue, in slightly different ways, that fixing California is a matter of making government work better; Whitman and Poizner essentially contend that fixing California means getting government out of the way.

At a time when Californians have record-low regard for state government, none of the four has mounted a challenge to the status quo as strongly as did Newsom. A flawed messenger lacking focus and the discipline to raise the vast sums needed, he nonetheless came closest to seizing the mantle of change.

newsomlookright“This is the race that will shake the system,” the 42-year old San Francisco mayor said in his first online campaign ad. Positioning himself as an upstart outsider with bold ideas, his message combined generational appeal with proposals for a green economy and for major structural reforms. Capturing the nomination was always a long-shot for newcomer Newsom, but it was he who most clearly articulated the memes of reform –- a constitutional convention, revising the budget process, reexamining Proposition 13 –- that have arisen amid Sacramento’s chronic gridlock and deficits.

The remaining candidates make studied efforts to cast themselves as scourges of the status quo. As authentic agents of change, however, they fall short by almost any measure. All are Baby Boomers or older, and they are also longtime establishment insiders in business, politics or both. They are campaigning on shopworn rhetoric, threadbare ideology and conventional ideas, offering scant inspiration to alienated voters and angry citizens distrustful and disgusted with the Capitol’s ossified operations.

To be sure, campaigning in the current political environment is an extraordinary challenge. The most recent statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found that Californians have dismally low views of the incumbent governor – 30% approve of his performance – and of the Legislature – with its humiliating 13% approval rating.

Worse for the candidates, the citizens of California across the board are deeply pessimistic about its intractable problems: 80% say California is on the wrong track, while two-thirds expect continued bad economic times in the next year. Breaking through this widespread despair and disillusionment requires candidates with uplifting vision, powerful new ideas, exceptional personality or all three. The political platitudes now on display hardly seem to qualify.

Despite his organizational problems, Newsom as a candidate displayed high energy and thoughtful policy thinking — on health care, environmentalism and civic reform. And his courage in simply declaring same-sex marriage legal in his city triggered a national debate over the civil rights of gays. None of the rest of the field has communicated such full-throated willingness to “shake the system.”

Here’s a quick look at the messages of those who remain in the race:

Meg Whitman: With a self-referential pledge – “I refuse to let California fail” – and boasts about herwhitman “spine of steel,” Whitman tells voters that her business skills and experience as a CEO will enable her to fulfill promises of easing unemployment and fixing the state’s battered education systems. She has announced her intention of firing 40,000 state workers and slashing regulations and taxes. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the last governor to woo voters with such a singular, tough talk pitch. But his simplistic, campaign trail prescriptions proved no match for the complex political and policy maladies of the Capitol.

stevepoiznerSteve Poizner: Casting himself as a candidate of “bold ideas,” Poizner promotes a “10-10-10 program” that would cut taxes and spending each by 10% and build a $10 billion rainy-day fund. Notwithstanding his breezy confidence in the alleged transformational power of his plan, it is basically recycled supply side, unfettered market economics of a brand discredited by the Bush Administration. His political makeover, from erstwhile moderate to born-again right-winger, smacks of poll-driven politics-as-usual.

Tom Campbell: The law professor with the MBA and years of political experience campbellprofessoris almost always the smartest guy in the room. An underfunded centrist, at a time when moderates are being purged from the GOP, he campaigns as the candidate of specificity; his mastery of the minutiae of state government generates detailed white papers and avuncular assurances, but in the end his message boils down to more efficient management of the status quo.

EGBrown3Jerry Brown: It is a great paradox that the septuagenarian Brown, the original rock-star politician, now timidly labels himself “an apostle of common sense,” hardly a slogan that screams “new ideas” or invokes the insurgency of his presidential campaign days. Brown has said little about how his late-life governorship would differ from his first, except to suggest he would be more competent in balancing competing special interests, a version of the theme being sounded by Campbell.

None of these messages offers a solution to the fundamental challenge which confronts the next governor: how to slash the maddening Gordian knot of California’s governance structure.

It is instructive that Treasurer Bill Lockyer, while well-positioned to seek the governorship, shows little interest in doing so: “We’re part of a system that was designed not to work,” he recently told lawmakers studying political reform. “You are the captives of this environment, and I don’t see any way out.”

This piece is also being published today in the Los Angeles Times.

Calbuzz Rant: eMeg Mutters More Malarkey

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

megcropCalbuzz watched eMeg Whitman — who’s been ducking serious questions from California political writers for months — being “interviewed” on Fox by Neil Cavuto a few hours ago. We waited to post in hopes we’d cool down, but we’re still fuming.

eMeg’s solution to California’s massive budget and spending crisis? Run government more like a business, create jobs and streamline government. Ah, c’mon. Like nobody’s ever peddled that pablum before.

“I’ve run large organizations,” Meg said. “I understand how to lead large organizations. I’ve balanced budgets. I’ve created jobs. As you know, 1.3 million people make their living selling on eBay,” she said. [Note eBay sellers: Meg claims she created your job.] She failed to note, however, as Saul Hansell did in the New York Times the other day, that “John Donahoe, her successor, has pretty much disassembled all of her major strategic moves.”

“We have to streamline government,” eMeg blathered. “Californians can no longer afford the government they have; we have got to give them the government they deserve and works for the people.” Poor Ted Sorenson must be gasping for breath.

This wasn’t an interview – it was a warm-up for an interview, where tepid, mushy platitudes slid by as “answers.” While eMeg was happy to cavort with Cavuto, she’s apparently terrified of the Bakersfield Californian – whose reporter she stiffed at the California Republican Assembly confab over the weekend. Since stumbling through a sit-down with Michael Finnegan of the L.A. Times the day after she announced back in February, she’s avoided every other serious news outlet in California. She’s ducking the Sacramento Press Club’s May 18 debate on the propositions. And Calbuzz is still waiting for our tete-a-tete with her Megness.

eMeg says it’s a “false choice” to have to pose cutting services versus raising taxes. Instead, she said, “We have to make government more efficient.” Aaaaarrgggggh. [Cut to Calbuzz tearing out what's left of our hair.]

NEWS ALERT HERE: eMeg did announce her support for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. “I would support Mitt,” she said, noting that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin “did an admirable job with the job she was dropped into.”

As for how she’ll try to sell herself to the right-wing movementeers in the California Republican Party who think she’s a squishy liberal, eMeg argued for a return to “core principles” of the GOP.

“We can’t lead with the social issues. We’ve got to lead with our power-alley issues – which are not divisive, which everyone can buy into, and let’s lead with what we know most people want and it’s the tried and true formula for creating a strong economy, which allows you to do many other things.”

WTF was the answer? Is she speaking in eCode?

We’re just sayin.’

PS: Note to the City Sunnyvale – eMeg slandered the hell out of you: She said, when making her point about the need to streamline government, that when building a new building for PayPal it took 2 ½ years “to break ground” and required “three consultants to navigate the labyrinth of California regulations.” Could any of that be true? We await your reply.

We’re Just Sayin’: In Newspaper Death Spiral, Save the Reporting

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

By Phil Trounstine and Jerry Roberts

Here’s some free financial advice for panicked newspaper owners: If you want to save some real money, stop publishing the news altogether.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the direction that many papers are headed. With papers across the nation contracting, collapsing and folding, and reporters and editors seeking safer ground – the bad news in the industry is going to get worse before it gets even worse.

Simply put, American newspapers are in a death spiral.

A handful of national papers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today will hang on, and so probably will some in the category of small-bore, small-impact community papers. But the once-powerful, once profitable big metro papers – the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News come to mind – which combined both the resources and the motivation to serve as public interest watchdogs on school boards, city halls, cop shops, courts, their state legislators and members of congress, all are in big-time decline.

Metros, scandalously slow off the mark in adapting to new technologies, reacted to economic decline by slashing the amount and quality of local news coverage that was the central value proposition in selling the paper to readers. Faced with plummeting circulation, owners and publishers ensured the downward trend would gain momentum, by cutting back on the very product readers were looking for: journalism .

The result: readers found their local newspaper was not something they had to have in their daily lives. So circulation declined even further, leading newspapers to cut back more, leading to further decline in readership and further cutbacks. That’s the death spiral.

BROKEN BUSINESS MODEL: THE DECLINE OF CLASSIFIEDS

The internet upended the traditional model for newspapers – aggregating a mass audience and selling it to advertisers – by fragmenting the very notion of a mass audience. Instead of one-stop shopping for news, weather, sports and comics in the daily paper, consumers now had an almost infinite number of new sources of specialized and in-depth information about specific subjects of interest to them – along with the power to engage in a conversation with those producing that information.

Dumping most of their resources into hanging on by their fingernails to their old franchises, publishers and owners failed to invest adequately – in bodies or in dollars – in exploring in a big enough way how they could use the new technology to build on their greatest strengths: the expertise and intelligence of their reporting staffs.

Suddenly then, the revenue to cover their vast overhead nut started disappearing. Nowhere was this more dramatic, or more damaging, than in the rapid loss of classified advertising.

Yes, once upon a time, BCL (Before Craig’s List), newspapers sold classified advertising. It was like printing money. Every line was a source of revenue. And significantly, classified advertisers really didn’t care how big the home delivery circulation of the paper was because people looking for a job, home, car or repairman bought the paper because they needed the classifieds.

Today, people looking for any of these things – especially jobs – don’t bother with the newspaper. They go online, usually to a site that has no connection to their local newspaper.

When newspapers could no longer rake in cash from classifieds, they became more heavily dependent on display advertising. And display advertisers – from big national chains like Target to local restaurants and shops – do care about the size of circulation. They might pay $10,000 to place an ad in a large circulation newspaper but only $2,000 to place that ad in a paper with smaller circulation. It’s all about paying for eyeballs.

In order to survive, newspapers needed to focus more sharply on their primary business – local news. People interested in what was happening in Uzbekistan didn’t need the L.A. Times to tell them about it – they could go online and find all and more of the information they sought. What people couldn’t find was what was going on in South Central or West Hollywood. That’s not on the Internet, except when it’s aggregated by sites that pick up the work paid for by local newspapers.

But when classifieds dried up, newspaper managers responded by cutting the one thing crucial to saving their business – those who produced the local news that readers could find nowhere else. Less compelling content (and the rise of the Internet and other channels of information) led to declining circulation, which made newspapers less attractive to other advertisers. Stockholders and owners long used to annual profit margins of 20% saw their dividends shrinking so they demanded further cost savings. And the death spiral deepened.

For some papers — like the San Jose Mercury News, for example — where the business model depended on classified advertising for more than half its revenue — the evaporation of classifieds was a devastating blow to the bottom line. But instead of making itself indispensable to readers by increasing resources for local news, the publisher cut the newsroom budget even further. (See “death spiral” above)
.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

There are only two ways to stop the spiral. And at this point, it’s not clear either will work.

– Newspapers can invest more resources, not less, in local reporting, leaving every national, international news and sports story to the national papers and wire services. They have to concentrate all of their force and fire power on their own communities, making themselves indispensable to local residents. People need to feel that they have to take the local paper to know what’s going on in their hometown. It’s the only way to maintain and grow circulation.
.
– Or, a business like Google or Yahoo, which is expert at online advertising – including personalization at the individual user level – can begin to pay reporters in communities to produce content. We’re talking about covering city councils and school boards, writing about local development and utilities, local sports and arts, etc. This might kill local newspapers, but it might save local reporting.

Why can’t local papers themselves do this? Maybe they can – and the Hearst Corp. is trying in Seattle, where they’ve shuttered the venerable Post-Intelligencer but kept a small staff of local reporters on hand to try to do its job online. Freed from the costs of paper, ink, presses, mail rooms, bundlers, delivery trucks, pressmen, racks and real estate, maybe they can find an online business model that works. But it’s clear that news operations that have to carry all those legacy costs can’t make enough on the Internet to sustain themselves.

Why should we care? Because city councils, school boards, water and sewage boards, police departments and more will have no one looking over their shoulder, rummaging through their waste bins, blowing the whistle on bad behavior or commending admirable work. Because democracy works only when there is an informed citizenry. Because corruption loves a vacuum. Because when you turn on the light switch, the cockroaches run for cover. Because we cannot afford to leave politics and policy in the hands of politicians and policy-makers.