Saturday, September 25, 2010

Good news in California polling


A new L.A. Times/USC poll finds:

-- Democrat Barbara Boxer leading Republican Carly Fiorina 51-43; and

-- Democrat Jerry Brown leading Republican Meg Whitman 49-44.

What's going on? California is a left-leaning state, obviously, but:

Republicans Whitman and Fiorina have yet to convince crucial groups of voters that their businesswoman backgrounds will translate into government success...

Both Republicans were hamstrung by voters' negative impressions of them -- particularly Whitman, who has poured a national record $119 million of her own money into an advertising-heavy campaign yet has seen her unpopularity rise, the survey showed.

But it's far from over:

Still, in this year of political tumult, the Democrats were facing stiff challenges too. As they do nationally, Republicans in California held a fierce edge in enthusiasm among likely voters. The poll defined likely voters based both on past voting history and enthusiasm about voting this year -- a measure that projects an election turnout that is more heavily Republican than is typical in California. If the Democratic turnout ends up being even more sharply depressed, that would put the party's candidates at risk.

It's the word that defines 2010: enthusiasm. Republicans have it, not least because of the whole Tea Party "movement," Democrats not so much, not least because of how Obama and Congressional Democrats have conducted themselves, which is, for the most part, less than admirably.

As I have argued before, however, I expect the enthusiasm gap to narrow now that the election campaign has begun in earnest. Republicans will still do well, as history tells us that the party in power loses seats in the first midterms, and they will likely make significant gains at both the federal and state levels, but there's no reason two strong Democratic candidates -- Boxer, the incumbent, and Brown, an ex-governor and currently the attorney general -- shouldn't prevail. Whitman in particular is a formidable opponent, but these are winnable races.

And these are very encouraging poll numbers.

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