Posts Tagged ‘pro-choice’



Babs vs. Carly: Choice Will Be a Crucial Difference

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Calbuzz caught up with Barbara Boxer Tuesday, at the tail end of Day One of her old-school campaign flyaround, and was intrigued to find that her biggest applause line came on the issue of abortion.

As a new Field Poll showed Boxer with a slight 47-44% lead over Republican nominee Carly Fiorina, the Democratic incumbent peppered the speeches on her “Jobs for California” tour, which focused mainly on the economy, with references underscoring stark contrasts on social issues between her and Fiorina, including her own staunch pro-choice position and the Republican’s extreme pro-life stance.

No pro-life candidate has won at the top of the ticket in California in a race for governor or Senate in more than two decades. And the new poll shows a considerable gender gap which suggests that Boxer may be benefiting from her stand on choice compared to Fiorina’s, even before the issue is driven home to voters.

Overall Boxer trails Fiorina, 42-49% among men, but leads 51-40% among women. But here’s how that comes to be: Boxer runs 19 points better among Democratic women (79-12%) than among Democratic men (70-22%); nine points better among Republican women (12-81%) than Republican men (8-86%) and 10 points better among independent women (49-35%) than independent men (46-42%).

In other words, Boxer is running better among women than she is among men across all party lines.

At a time of 12.7 percent unemployment in the state, the political purpose of Boxer’s 36-hour, nine-city barnstorm was to claim credit for saving or creating several hundred thousand jobs* because of her vote for the 2009 stimulus bill, and to claim that more are on the way with gauzy promises about development of a new green energy industry.

But we’ve long argued that abortion and other values issues could be critical in the Senate race, despite the conventional wisdom that economics is all that matters in 2010. That’s why we thought the pro-choice Tom Campbell would have made a tougher Republican general election opponent for Babs, except for the inconvenient fact that he can’t win a GOP primary.

“I do think she’s out of the mainstream,” Boxer said of Fiorina in an interview.

Speaking Tuesday night in Santa Barbara (World Headquarters of the Calbuzz Department of Alliteration, Syntax and Sales) Boxer drew polite applause at an outdoor rally of local Democrats as she reprised her talking points spiel about jobs for the fourth time that day.

But the most spontaneous, emotional ovation came when she let loose an oldie but goody line about protecting abortion rights: “This election is about who’s going to stand up for a woman’s right to choose.”

Answering Calbuzz questions in the candidate’s van on the way back to her Gulfstream III charter, Boxer elaborated on the issue, saying on the day before the new Field Poll came out that she’ll be helped among “independents and Republican women” by the hard line, pro-life stance of Fiorina. The Hurricane has said during the campaign that “I absolutely would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade if the opportunity presented itself.”

“Her view is so radical,” Boxer said. “It’s more radical than any other Republican woman in the Senate who opposes choice.”

Boxer’s comments also touched on a constellation of other, non-economic issues which offer her opportunities to exploit Fiorina’s positions among independents and moderate Republicans:

–Palin – Boxer expressed delight over Fiorina’s endorsement by the right-wing former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, which she views as a crucial signifier for voters who may not know much about iCarly: “It’s very important,” she said of the endorsement. “I’m glad she made that endorsement. The endorsement speaks volumes.”

--Climate change – Boxer emphasized her strong opposition to the proposed suspension of AB 32, California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions legislation, which Fiorina views as “job killing”  government over-regulation. Hurricane Carly also has expressed doubts about the science of climate change and characterized as “worrying about the weather” Boxer’s focus on the issue. “My opponent confuses climate and the weather,” said Babs.

–Gun control – Both in the interview and in her speech, Boxer recalled Fiorina’s Second Amendment purist pronouncement in the primary: “If you are on a suspected terrorist watch list, she supports your right to buy a gun.” And she contrasted her support of California’s assault weapons ban with Fiorina’s opposition to the measure.

Beyond these issues, she also attacked Fiorina over her support for expanded offshore oil drilling, another issue on which Boxer’s stance may gain support from independent and moderate voters.

“She’s with the ‘drill baby drill’ crowd – that’s why she got the endorsement of Sarah Palin.”

According to the Field Poll, Boxer’s favorability among voters has taken a serious hit in recent months — it’s now 41% favorable and 52% unfavorable, not much changed from 38-51% in March but down considerably from 48-39% in January. At the same time, Fiorina’s favorability has improved to 34-29%, from 20-22% in March and 16-18% in January.

Moreover, the proportion of voters who approve of Boxer’s performance as Senator has dropped lower than it’s been since February 2006 and now stands at 42% approve and 48% disapprove. These are not good numbers. Her approval rating among Republicans is 11-80%; among Democrats just 66-20% and among independents a negative 36-40%.

On the other hand, in a match-up with Fiorina, Boxer is — for the moment at least — holding her own among independents and moderates. While Boxer leads 75-17% among Democrats and Fiorina carries Republicans 83-10%, it’s Boxer who is leading among independents with 47-39%.

Likewise, while Boxer has 84% of the liberals who account for 23% of the voters and Fiorina has 80% of the conservatives who make up 36% of the electorate, Boxer leads by a healthy 53-34% among the moderates who comprise 41% of the voting population.

The Field Poll surveyed 1,005 likely voters, including a random sub-sample of 357 voters, June 22-July 5. The margin of error for questions asked of all voters is +/- 3.2% and for questions asked of the sub-sample (including favorability) it is +/- 5.5%. Calbuzz has been refused the opportunity to subscribe to the Field Poll and has obtained the results elsewhere.

The mail’s comin’ on the stagecoach tomorrow: As widely reported, Babs on her statewide odyssey unveiled some pretty good lines responding to Carly’s now-famous, snide and snotty open mic dis of Boxer’s hair: “I’ve decided that if everyone in California who’s ever had a bad hair day votes for me, I’ll win. I’m going for the bad hair vote.”

Too bad it took nearly four weeks to come up with a snappy rejoinder, putting her in a tie with Jerry Brown for the Geezer Response Time team award for campaign 2010

*(Upon passage of the stimulus bill, aka the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Boxer put out a press release that predicted the measure would save or create 400,000 jobs in California.  She now acknowledges that she doesn’t know for sure how many jobs it’s generated. At times she cites a figure of 150,000, which she attributes to the governor’s office; at others she uses a figure of 340,000 contained in a report issued last April by the Council of Economic Advisers).

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.”

Boxer Barely Beats Generic Reep; More on Meg’s $$

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Barbara Boxer is in trouble.

The Democratic U.S. senator’s favorable-unfavorable ratio has gone from 48-39% positive in January to 38-51% negative in March. That’s a net negative shift of 22 percentage points in three months — on the basis of virtually nothing except the mood of the nation and the state.

That’s part of today’s story from the Field Poll – which Calbuzz has only because some of our subscriber friends share it with us. (Field won’t let Calbuzz subscribe.)

In general election match-ups, Boxer leads Assemblyman Chuck DeVore 45-41% and splits with former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina 45-44%. Against former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell she’s behind within in the margin, 43-44%.

The survey might was well have asked, who would you rather have for a senator, Democrat Barbara Boxer or some random Republican?

But here’s what Boxer has to worry about: Her favorable-unfavorable among Democrats is 60-25% (luke warm); 11-84% among Republicans (as expected); but a nasty and uncomfortable 37-54% negative among non-partisans.

The Republican primary race – which has yet to see the effect of heavy-duty paid broadcast media for or against any candidate – is virtually unchanged from January. Campbell is at 28%, Fiorina is at 22% and DeVore is at 9%. Four in 10 Republicans still have no preference.

Weirdly, Campbell – who’s pro-choice, pro-gay rights and who has advocated raising gasoline taxes – holds about the same lead among Republicans who say they are strong conservatives. Among them it’s Campbell 27%, Fiorina 25% and DeVore 13%.

Clearly, Calbuzz Rule No. 3 of Politics is at play here: Nobody knows anything.

They certainly don’t know much about the GOP candidates. About six in 10 voters have no opinion about Campbell or Fiorina and about eight in 10 know nothing about DeVore. Campbell’s favorable-unfavorable – among those who have any clue who he is – is 23-18% positive; Fiorina’s is 20-22% negative and DeVore’s is 9-13% negative.

Among Republican primary voters, Campbell’s favorable is 31-13%; Fiorina’s is 24-17% and DeVore’s is 11-11%. Not much to write home about.

Boxer will get some help next month when President Obama comes out to Los Angeles to help her with fundraising. But what she really needs is a way to bring home all those moderates and non-partisans who are not naturally in her base. If she draws Fiorina or DeVore for an opponent, she can lean heavily on women and abortion rights because they’re both pro-life. But if she gets Campbell, that issue – one of Boxer’s most reliable — is a non-starter: he’s pro-choice.

More on the governor’s race polling A few points that eluded us in our first take.

1. Her money is moving voters. Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is down 63-14% to former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. But she’s spent about $14 million on cable and broadcast TV, including about $4 million in the past month, and he’s put up just a paltry $800,000, according to sources close to the Poizner campaign. If Poizner begins to put up some serious ads, can those numbers move? We just don’t see how he can take her out from the right – which seems to be his play for the GOP primary. We’d like to see the ad with black-belt Steve doing karate chops on a pile of eMeg’s money.

2. Her money is moving voters II. Look at Los Angeles County, where voters don’t know Whitman except what they see on TV and where they don’t know Attorney General Jerry Brown like they do in the Bay Area. In January, while she was starting her radio ads and before her big TV buy, Brown led Whitman in the Field Poll 59-28%. But after her media blitz, Whitman led Brown 45-40%. In Los Angeles County! Which any Democrat must win in order to win statewide.

3. Her money is moving voters III. In January, before her ad blitz, Brown led Whitman 47-25% among non-partisans – voters who are not rooted in a party and who are the most likely to be swayed by advertising. After eMeg’s opening blitz, she surged ahead among non-partisans by 50-36%. Did we forget to mention that statewide California races are won by holding your base and winning the middle?

Just in case we didn’t make our point here, let’s go over it again: These are HUGE shifts in a three month period among voters who are crucial – Los Angeles County and non-partisans. Certainly, when the context is different – for example, when eMeg comes under attack from Latinos, environmentalists and labor – she may fall as quickly as Arnold Schwarzenegger did, no matter how much money she throws into the air.

But so far all we’ve seen and heard from the so-called independent expenditure folks is a lot of jaw-flapping. Show us the money.

The Field Poll surveyed 748 likely voters March 9-15 in English and Spanish, including 353 likely Republican primary voters. The margin of error for the overall sample is +/- 3.7% and for the GOP sample it is +/- 5.5%