Steve Poizner, who had already hit Meg Whitman with a two-punch TV combo – starring Tom McClintock and Goldman Sachs – on Sunday followed with a new right cross on immigration, while Whitman tries to defend with an immigration radio spot of her own, starring former Gov. Pete Wilson.
The fight – which Poizner takes today to the pedestrian bridge at San Ysidro — is all about winning over the most conservative Republican voters who have, according to various pollsters, begun moving toward Poizner over Whitman in the race of the GOP nomination for governor.
In their zeal to appeal to the xenophobic instincts of the right wing, it’s unclear whether either candidate has left open even a shred of possibility of winning Latino votes in the general election. But that’s clearly a secondary concern to the GOP candidates as they drift ever further toward nativism in hopes of proving their anti-illegal-immigrant credentials to conservative Republicans.
Poizner’s new ad lumps Whitman with President Obama in supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants and opposing Arizona’s “papers please” immigration law and concludes, “If you care about stopping illegal immigration, Steve Poizner is the only choice.”
Whitman’s anticipatory response on radio has Wilson – who was known on the streets of Mexico for his anti-immigrant policies as “hijo de puta” – assuring voters: “Meg will be tough as nails on illegal immigration. She’ll fight to secure our border and go after sanctuary cities.”
What Hath Goldman Wrought?
In looking at what’s moving Republican voters, Calbuzz can only intuit from scant data publicly available right now. We get why Poizner’s endorsement by U.S. Rep. McClintock – a right-wing rock star in California, Prince of the Palinistas, Toast of the Tea Party – helps him among knuckle-dragging voters.
And we understand why the immigration issue appeals to conservatives.
But while we can see how Goldman Sachs hurts Whitman among independents and Democrats, we wonder how it can help Poizner with conservative Republicans? Does it?
We know that in the March LA Times/USC survey, while Whitman was beating Poizner 60-20%, the margin was closer – 53-26% among Republicans with incomes under $50,000.
We also know that in the March Field Poll, where Whitman led Poizner 63-14% overall, the spread was 50-26% among Republicans with incomes of $40,000-60,000.
Private polling we’ve seen recently had Whitman with a mere 6-point lead, with Poizner slightly ahead among the most conservative Republicans.
While the McClintock endorsement ad was clearly a big factor in that movement, does it make any sense that some Republicans are moved by Goldman Sachs as well?
“The most conservative Republicans are populist, not establishment,” said GOP ad man Don Sipple. “They don’t care for Wall Street. They’re not the wealthiest Republicans. And it becomes about character, which is a universal thing. They either respect someone or they don’t.”
There’s been an historic division in the GOP between the Country Club Republicans and what were once known as the Chapel Republicans. This may be evolving to the Tea Party Republicans, the Sarah Palin People, the Limbaugh/Beck/O’Reilly Publicans – pick your moniker. On the one hand you got your Donald Brens and George Schultzes and on the other hand you got your Tom McClintocks and Chuck DeVores.
They’re all Republicans, but they’re not the same animal. Poizner and Whitman both come from the Country Club wing of the party, but Poizner has been most ferocious is throwing off his Brooks Brothers baggage.
Sure, he’s a multi-millionarie who was up to his eyeballs in investment banking opportunities and silk-stocking Wall Street deals. But it’s Whitman who was on the board at Goldman, who had those sweetheart IPO deals, who’s parked her cash in vulture funds. So if Poizner can whip up a little internal GOP class resentment – what the hell. All’s fair, right?
Ballot Label Change You Can Believe In
But lest we make too much of whether and how Goldman Sachs moves those down-scale Republicans, let’s remember one important but overlooked factoid: Some time between the last set of public polls, Poizner’s ballot designation changed.
In the Field, PPIC and USC/LA Times polls, Poizner was identified as “California State Insurance Commissioner” – something Poizner has never pushed in his advertising. But his ballot designation – which is how he is now being tested by those pollsters who use the actual ballot label – has been changed to “Businessman.”
It may well be that some significant portion of Poizner’s polling troubles was a function of conservative voters who don’t want no stinking insurance commissioner for nothin’. But a businessman – now that’s a guy you can get behind.