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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.

LAT/USC Poll: Climate Change Bites eMeg’s Backside

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Long ago, Calbuzz suggested that Meg Whitman made a strategic blunder during the Republican primary when, in an effort to look conservative enough to beat Steve Poizner, she came out swinging against AB 32, California’s pioneering greenhouse-gas reduction law. Our point was simple: she had alienated independent and moderate voters who tilt the balance of power in California because, for them, protecting the environment is an important cause.

Whitman tried to soften her outspoken objections to AB32 as a job killer by meekly coming out (after much dithering and poll-taking, we suspect) against Prop. 23 – the Texas oil-company sponsored measure to essentially kill AB32. But the gambit didn’t work.

According to the LATimes/USC survey, which finds Brown leading Whitman 52-39% among likely voters, Prop. 23 is losing 32-48%. And there is, USC Political Science Professor Jane Junn tells the Calbuzz Green Eyeshade Division, a significant correlation (.37) between a vote on the measure and a vote preference for Jerry Brown. We can’t say for certain whether the dog is wagging the tail or if the tail is wagging the dog, but look at this:

Of voters supporting Prop. 23 – that is, who want to kill the state’s climate change law – 32% are voting for Brown and 57% are for Whitman. But among those opposed to Prop. 23 – the much larger group that would retain the law — 69% are for Brown and 25% are for Whitman. An opponent of Prop. 23 is nearly three times more likely to vote for Brown than for Whitman.

Likewise, among Whitman voters, Prop. 23 is winning 46-31%. But among the much larger group of Brown voters, Prop. 23 is losing by a crushing 20-64%. A Brown voter is more than three times more likely to vote against Prop. 23 than for it.

The only voters in favor of Prop. 23 are Republicans (43-34%), conservatives (51-29%) and those Whitman voters. Every other major demographic bloc is opposed to the measure, with independents (29-55%) and moderates (24-53%) looking a lot like Democrats (23-58%) and liberals (15-73%) on the issue.

Prop. 19, which would legalize marijuana for personal use, appears to be going down in flames, training now 39-51% in the LAT/USC survey. The only people for it are Democrats (51-41%), Independents (48-37%), liberals (66-27%) and – lo and behold – Brown voters (52-42%). Of course, younger voters favor the measure more than older voters, but there aren’t enough of them to affect the outcome.

Too bad for Brown. Those who favor the measure prefer Brown over Whitman 66-25% while those opposed to Prop 19 favor Whitman 50-41% over Brown. “Dope Smokers for Jerry”  hasn’t yet gotten off the ground, despite Democratic Party Chairman John Burton’s prediction that pot would be the key to Democratic victory. Maybe that’s partly due to the fact that the Attorney General opposes the measure.

The LAT/USC survey also finds Prop. 25, which would lower the threshold for passing the state budget to a majority from two-thirds, is well ahead – 58-28%. That’s almost certainly due to the add-ons like denying legislators their pay and per diem every day a budget is late. But no matter, it appears in strong shape – winning in every demographic category, including a slight lead among Republicans and conservatives.

BTW, according to Professor Junn, Prop. 25 also correlates significantly with a vote for Brown (.35) as does Prop. 19 (.28). We just can’t say for certain which is the driver and which is along for the ride.

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.

PS: For an important update on how California voters regard immigration, see Cathy Decker’s article in the ByGodLATimes. For the Times report on the propositions, click here.