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Archive for the ‘Senate race’ Category



Meyer Dings Bell, Carly Snarls & Snarks, Press Picks

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Before the City of Bell (“promoting a healthy, balanced and moral lifestyle”)  became a global  symbol of greed, rapacity and plunder by scumbag public officials, the town was best known as the site of the heist of 55 Oscar statuettes from a loading dock on March 8, 2000.

Although three trucking company employees were sentenced to probation in the case, all of them pleaded “no contest,” and their professions of innocence at various points in the proceedings suggested to Some Observers – we name no names – that they were set up to take the fall for the caper, while the real culprits remained at large.

Today Tom Meyer, internationally renowned editorial cartoonist, fashion plate and world class Calbuzzer, tackles the lingering mystery of the case, and with uncanny Holmesian intuition, solves it at last.

Not available in stores: Calbuzzers interested in purchasing a full color print of a Meyer cartoon can email Tom at tom@meyertoons.

Don’t be a jerk: Shortly after Roger Simon returned to work at Politico last month after a dreadful illness, he wrote a lovely little column on the subject of civility, specifically the lack of it in politics, called “Impolite Pols Face Doom.”

Perhaps inspired by his experience in cheating death, Simon riffed on a recent survey showing people across the nation rank “politics and government” as the most uncivil arena in American life,  with 72 percent of those polled saying it’s more rude and disrespectful than talk radio and high school, at 59 percent, Hollywood at 56 percent and even blogs, at 51 percent, all perceived as bastions of greater civility than The Game.

“Listen up, you morons,” Simon began:

We, as a people, pay a price for the jerks among us: Nearly half of all Americans say they are “tuning out” of government and politics, 46 percent are tuning out of opinion pieces and editorials in the media, and 38 percent are tuning out of news coverage and reporting.

His piece, and others on the same subject, came to mind when we received the latest copy of “Boxer Bites,” a regular emailed attack feature of Carly Fiorina’s campaign for Senate, and decided that, in a campaign year when spending millions on the low road is just table stakes, Hurricane Carly hands down wins the prize for absolute pure nastiness.

We’ve certainly done our share of ripping Babs for her arrogance and sense of entitlement, true that, but still, there’s  something vaguely creepy about the unrelentingly toxic tone of the constant ad hominem attacks coming out of iCarly’s corner.

From the Mean Girls cattiness she accidentally revealed with her comments about Boxer’s hair, to the sophomoric sarcasm of “Boxer Bites” and her overall habit of making criticisms more personal than political, Fiorina’s attitudes and language echo the caustic corrosiveness of Sarah Palin, even as  they recall the personal viciousness with which Carly set about to smash the civility and respectfulness of the “H-P Way” corporate culture when she moved in as CEO. An excerpt from Friday’s eblast:

Perhaps it’s good that Barbara Boxer is visiting an employment-training center today. As a career politician who has been in elected office for more than three decades, the transition back into the real world is likely to be a rocky one. Boxer may very well need some job-skills training in order to find new employment after the people of California fire her on Election Day. (After all, bitter partisanship and election-year grandstanding aren’t exactly marketable job skills in the real world).

As you would know better than almost anyone, Carly.

Notes from the cutting room floor

A young and hotly talented political writer looks at the 15th SD race.

A nice and nicely restrained conservative takedown of Obama.

Memo to Meg: Washpost’s conventional wisdom on self-funders.

Tom Friedman watch: A mere eight uses of “I” in 800 word column.

The smartest meta political piece in a while on culture and ideology.

Why didn’t somebody warn us Obama has a David Brooks fetish?

What makes Dick Blum run?

The Girl with the Seriously Dead Author.

And speaking of civility

PPIC: Voters Oppose Offshore Oil & AB 32 Rollback

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

By large margins, California’s likely voters oppose expanded offshore oil drilling and believe that enforcement of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions law will create more jobs – not kill them – a new Public Policy Institute of California poll shows.

Public attitudes are polarized between Democrats and Republicans on the two high-profile environmental issues but, significantly, the crucial swing blocs of independent and moderate voters both oppose the GOP position by 2-to-1.

With tight races both for governor – where PPIC shows Jerry Brown ahead of Meg Whitman 37-to-34% with 23 % undecided –  and for U.S. Senator – where Barbara Boxer leads Carly Fiorina 39-to-34%, with 22% undecided – the poll points to key political opportunities for the front-running Democrats to differentiate themselves from their Republican rivals.

Given the registration advantage of Democrats in statewide elections, PPIC President and CEO Mark Baldassare told Calbuzz, the poll’s findings on the views of independents, particularly on the jobs vs. greenhouse gas regulation debate, are “hugely significant.”

“The ‘more jobs versus fewer jobs’ debate will be a center of discussion this fall with the effort to suspend AB 32,” Baldassare said. “It poses a real challenge for Republicans to explain why they believe differently” than most voters.

Climate change and jobs: As a political matter, the findings on AB 32 — California’s landmark legislation to regulate emissions — offer the clearest look yet at the state political landscape surrounding the issue of climate change, at a time when debate on the matter is growing more vocal.

Conservative Republicans, joined by several large coal and oil companies, have qualified Proposition 23 for the November ballot. The initiative would suspend enforcement of AB 32 unless and until unemployment fell to 5.5 percent in the state; AB 32 requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

With the state unemployment rate now at 12.5 percent, supporters of the measure argue that the greenhouse gas law is an environmental “job killer” that California cannot economically afford. But the recession has had little effect on changing the public’s favorable opinion about AB 32, according to the poll, which shows likely voters:

1-Favor AB 32 overall by 61-to-28 percent; while Democrats support it 80-10 and Republicans oppose it 49-39, independents support the law 73-16%.

2-Think California should make its own policies, separate from the federal government, by 56-38%, with Democrats backing that position 63-to-30% and independents by 60-to-30%, as Republicans say California should not have its own climate change policy, 50-43%.

3-Believe that global warming is a very or somewhat serious threat to the economy and quality of life in the state by 63-to-35%; Democrats perceive it as a serious problem, 86-12% while Republicans do not find it so, 55-41% and independents express serious concern 77-to-22%.

For the 2010 campaigns, however, the most important numbers on the climate change issue show that likely voters, for now at least, are rejecting the central argument of the conservatives and industry groups spearheading the Prop. 23 effort, namely that tough greenhouse gas emissions regulation is a “job killer” making the recession worse.

In fact, a large plurality of likely voters believe that state global warming legislation will increase employment. While PPIC did not poll the ballot language of AB Prop. 23, because the final version was not available when they were in the field, researchers did ask about the jobs argument:

Do you think that California doing things to reduce global warming in the future would cause there to be more jobs for people around the state, would cause there to be fewer jobs, or wouldn’t affect the number of jobs for people around the state?

The result: By 43-28, likely voters said it would mean more jobs, not fewer; Democrats took that stance 57-14%, while Republicans said it would mean fewer jobs, 43-to-24%.

Swing voters agreed with the Democrats: Independents said global warming measures would mean more jobs rather than fewer, 50-to-25%, while moderates agreed, 49-to-20%.

Offshore oil drilling: In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon calamity in the Gulf of Mexico, the poll showed a dramatic swing in attitudes about offshore oil drilling in California.

After many years in which state voters strongly opposed expanded drilling off the coast, sentiment began to swing in favor two years ago, when gas prices spiked.

In 2009,  when asked their view about more drilling off the coast “to address the country’s energy needs and reduce dependence on foreign oil,” likely voters favored drilling 55-to-41%. But in the new survey, likely voters oppose drilling 59-to-37%, a huge swing of 36 points.

“After consistently opposing more offshore oil drilling, residents began to waver as gas prices increased,” Baldassare said. “But events in the Gulf appear to have renewed opposition to more drilling here.”

What it all means: As a practical matter, the PPIC poll represents especially bad news for GOP Senate candidate Fiorina.

She has positioned herself on the far right on a host of issues, including her call for expanded drilling off the coast of California, and her support for Proposition 23, coupled with her mocking of Boxer’s oft-expressed concern about climate change (Fiorina calls it a fixation on the weather) and her questioning of the science of global warming.

With 41% of likely voters saying the candidates’ views on the environment are very important, compared to 21% who say they are not too important, Boxer leads Fiorina overall, 39-to-34%. Each candidate has very strong backing from her own party but Boxer leads among independents 35-29%.

In the governor’s race, Whitman has switched her position on offshore drilling several times and, most recently, opposes it, while Brown consistently has been against.

In courting right-wing voters in the GOP primary, Whitman said she would suspend AB 32 for at least one year, while Brown has been adamantly against relaxing it.

It’s significant that Whitman has not yet taken a position on Prop. 23 and, given her flip flops and flexibility on other issues, it would not surprising to see her come out against it yet. Our guess: she’ll say she’s got a better plan and Prop. 23 goes too far. This, of course, would raise new questions about her opportunism and commitment on the issue by both sides of the debate.

The PPIC findings are based on telephone (landline and cell) surveys of 2,502 Californians, conducted July 6-20, in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean. The margin of error for the sub-sample of 1,321 likely voters is plus or minus 2.7 percent.

You can access the complete poll here.

Conservative Yakkers: eMeg “Lying” on Immigration

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

The ferocious pounding that high-profile conservative talk show hosts John and Ken delivered to Meg Whitman over the L.A. airwaves this week clearly shows that her blatant untruthiness isn’t playing any better on the right than it is on the left.

“If she’s going to lie to us during the engagement process then the hell with her,” said John Kobylt, one half of the dynamic duo featured on the “John and Ken Show.”

“Schwarzenegger did it after he was elected twice and then he screwed us over on taxes… She’s lying about immigration already.”

Broadcast with partner Ken Chiampou, the popular 2-7 p.m. weekday show on KFI-AM 640 is a loud megaphone for hardcore conservative views, and a Southern California touchstone for right-wing true believers. Mindful of offending the base of the party, Republican candidates of all stripes, including eMeg, covet the political blessing of the frequently entertaining, if ideologically reflexive, pair, who routinely savage GOP apostates by calling for their “heads on a pike.”

This week, their own heads exploded over the recent spectacle of Her Megness gussying herself up as some kind of moderate on immigration issues, mounting a lavish, Spanish language multi-media campaign to woo Latino voters with kissy poo noises after portraying herself in the GOP primary as the fiercest scourge of illegals since Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

John and Ken’s outrage over Whitman’s transparent, 180-degree pandering was the focus of verbal assaults from them and their radio callers this week, as they also festooned their home page with a huge “Stop the Pandering” headline above a call to action for listeners to contact the Whitman campaign and “tell her not to take your vote for granted and to stop pandering to the open borders crowd!”

Worse for Whitman, the pair sputtered their splenetic outrage on the evening newscast of mainstream KTLA-TV, where they also have a regular gig. In the episode, which the Brown campaign posted on its You Tube page the yakkers railed at eMeg for trumpeting her opposition to Prop. 187, for claiming in a Spanish language op-ed that she and Krusty are virtually identical on immigration – “Jerry Brown is for amnesty!” – and for running away from the tough stances she struck in competing for right-wing support against the vanquished Steve Poizner in the GOP primary. Said John:

She’s saying one thing in Spanish and the exact opposite in English…She is going to lose white, black and Asian votes and she’s going to lose a lot of conservative and independent votes, if she’s acting as if she’s two-faced, and she’s acting like she’s two-faced…You can’t believe the anger coming out of the phone lines.

Said Whitman spokeshuman Sarah Pompei:  “Meg is the best candidate for Californians who want to see the laws enforced and our borders secure.”

Up next: eMeg unveils new $2 million ad buy charging John and Ken, Calitics and the CNA are conspiring to stop her – She refuses to be stopped! – from letting California fail.

Three dot lounge: Interesting to note that Carly Fiorina’s sudden flip flop on unemployment insurance legislation in the Senate comes the same day a new Field Poll shows that 53 percent of her supporters – not to mention 71 percent of independents – agree with Roe v. Wade, which the Hurricane has promised to undo. Must be getting kinda’ lonely out there on the far right, despite what horse’s ass George Will sez about how mainstream she is…

You know you’re in trouble when the New York Times enlists recalled governor Gray Davis to give you advice on how to save your sinking presidency…News to us that you can still watch the great Watergate-era newspaper show “Lou Grant” in reruns. Where the hell are Rossi and Billy when you need ‘em?…Kudos to Coco Timesman Steve Harmon for flying the MSM flag  on calling eMeg to account for her Pinocchio prevarications.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Major bust for minor blockbuster.

Mining the Field Poll: Climate Change, Gov, Senate

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Buried in last week’s Field Poll were some nifty data that confirm something Calbuzz has been arguing for quite a while: that California’s pioneering climate-change law, and now Prop. 23 which seeks to suspend it, is a key political marker in the governor’s race and in the Senate race as well.

The Field Poll found Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman in a statistical tie – 44% for Brown and 43% for Whitman. When a political contest is tied, analysts like to find variables that demonstrate powerful — significant — differences.

Party registration is always one of the most muscular variables. About 74% of Democrats are supporting Brown, for example, and about 80% of Republicans are supporting Whitman.

The Field Poll  also found that Prop. 23, the measure to suspend AB32’s requirement to rollback the level of greenhouse gases in California, is running behind, with 48% of the voters opposed and 36% in favor – generally regarded as a weak starting point for a ballot measure.*

But a separate crosstab that the Field Poll ran at our request showed that voters who favor Prop. 23 are supporting Whitman over Brown by 55-34% while those who oppose the measure are supporting Brown  by 54-34% — virtual mirror images.

At the same time, and even more impressive: Whitman voters are supporting Prop. 23 by 45-36% but Brown supporters are opposing the measure by an even stronger 60-28%. These are differences you can call statistically significant.

Some, but not all of this is the effect of party registration, since Democrats oppose Prop. 23 by 57-31% and Republicans support it 47-33%. But it’s also clear that there’s some powerful correlation going on between opposition to overturning AB32 and who voters are supporting in the governor’s race.

It’s important, too, that independents – who are supporting Whitman over Brown by just 42-39% — also are opposed to Prop. 23 by 53-29%. If Brown makes those independents aware that Whitman has called for a suspension of the state’s climate-change law, it could create a problem for Whitman among this important group of voters.

There’s a strong connection between Prop. 23 and the Senate race, too.

Fiorina voters favor Prop. 23 by 47-34% while Boxer voters are opposed 62-27%. At the same time, supporters of Prop. 23 favor Fiorina over Boxer by 58-35% while opponents of Prop. 23 favor Boxer 60-32%.

The undecideds in the Senate race are opposed to the measure 47-28% — giving Boxer an opening to make inroads among voters who haven’t made up their mind about the Senate race but who know for sure they don’t want to roll back California’s climate change law.

Digging further into the Field Poll crosstabs yielded some other nuggets:

— Brown’s favorable-unfavorable ratio among Democrats is just 68-15%, the reverse of his standing among Republicans which is 68-15% unfavorable. But among non-partisans – the true swing vote in California — Brown’s got a further problem: his standing is 47-34% unfavorable. On the other hand, his ratio is 50-34% favorable among moderates.

— Among voters age 18-29, 35% have no opinion about Brown, among voters 30-39, 33% have no clue about him and three in 10 Latinos have no opinion about him. In other words, Brown has an enormous task ahead introducing himself to young voters before they hear about him from Whitman.

— Whitman’s got favorability problems of her own. Her status among Republicans is 65-18% favorable and among Democrats it’s 60-20% unfavorable. Like Brown, the independents have an unfavorable view of her – 46-40%. Unlike Brown, moderates have a negative view of her, too: 45-39% unfavorable.

— Despite spending a jillion dollars on TV and radio ads in the past few months, she’s not much better known among the 18-29 year-old voters than Brown is: 30% have no opinion of her and among those who have an opinion it’s 43-27% unfavorable. (The younger voters who know Brown like him a lot more: 39-26% favorable.)

— Worst of all for eMeg: women don’t seem to like her much. Her favorability, which is 42-40% on the unfavorable side is driven mostly by women. Men see her favorably 43-41% but women lean 43-37% unfavorable.

* Since the initiative and referendum were created just after the turn of the century in California, the “no” position on propositions has beaten the “yes” position about two-thirds of the time. When a proposition begins with less than 60% support, it’s historically in trouble. That can change if enough money and resources are thrown into the mix. But it’s tough. It doesn’t help the “yes” side when proponents advance silly arguments like we heard last week from John Kabateck, Executive Director of the National Federation of Independent Business/California, a co-chair of the Prop. 23 campaign.

Here’s the question that Field asked:

Have you seen, read or heard anything about a statewide ballot proposition to suspend state air pollution control and greenhouse gas emission laws until unemployment is reduced in California?

(As you know) this proposition would suspend state laws requiring reduced greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters. It requires the state to abandon its comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction program that includes increased renewable energy, cleaner fuel requirements and mandatory reporting and fees for major polluters such as power plants and oil refineries until the suspension is lifted. If the election were being held today, would you vote YES or NO on this proposition?

The complaint from the so-called “California Jobs Initiative”?

Most importantly, the survey failed to mention anything about the costs of AB 32 implementation, which are projected to run in the billions in higher electricity, natural gas, gasoline and diesel costs and to cause the loss of over a million jobs.

And then — we’re not making this up — after trashing the poll, they trotted out the old chestnut: “the only poll that counts is the one on election day” argument.

“The only poll that matters is the one that will go before voters on November 2nd, “concluded Kabateck. “We’re confident that when voters have all the facts they’ll vote for jobs, affordable energy and fiscal responsibility – that means a Yes vote on Prop. 23.”

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).