Is This The End Of The GOP’s California Dreamin’ ?

Despite hopes that they could help reverse a 20 year trend, both Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman are beginning to lose ground in their races for statewide office in California.

Two new CNN/Time polls seem to suggest that the California Senate and Governor’s races are slipping away from the GOP:

CNN) – A new poll indicates that the Democrats are opening up leads in the California battles for senator and governor.

According to a CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday, 52 percent of likely voters in the Golden State say they support Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, with 43 percent backing Republican challenger Carly Fiorina.

A USC/Los Angeles Times poll released over the past week put the three-term senator’s lead at eight points, with a California Field Poll giving Boxer a six-point edge.

Among a larger sampling of registered voters, the CNN/Time survey indicates that Boxer leads Fiorina by 19 points, 56 to 37 percent. Boxer’s share of the vote among registered voters is up eight percentage points since the beginning of the month.

According to the poll, Fiorina holds a 14-point advantage among independents likely to vote in the general election.

“But Boxer has been able to counter that deficit with big gains among California women, particularly college-educated women,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

The numbers are almost identical in the Governor’s race:

In the fight for governor, the poll indicates that 52 percent of likely voters back California Attorney General and former Gov. Jerry Brown, the Democratic nominee, with 43 percent supporting former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, the GOP nominee.

The USC/Los Angeles Times survey taken last week indicated Brown held a five-point advantage over Whitman, with the Field Poll done at the same time showing the candidates tied at 41 percent.

According to the CNN/Time poll, Brown leads Whitman 52 to 39 percent among a larger sampling of registered voters. Brown’s 13-point advantage is up from a two-point deficit in the early September survey.

“Virtually all of Brown’s additional support comes from voters who attended college,” Holland noted. “That helps to neutralize the 13-point advantage among independents that Whitman currently has.”

Given the trends in Boxer’s favor and Brown’s favor, both Whitman and Fiorina are going to have to make strong gains in the remaining debates in order to turn these race around. With the exception of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s election, which was an outlier for many reasons, California has been out of Republican hands since at least 1992 when Bill Clinton won it in the Presidential election. Many people thought that this year would be the beginning of a trend that would see the GOP more competitive in the Golden State, but if neither Whitman nor Fiorina are able to pull off victories there it would appear that California will remain a safely blue state for some time to come.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I think it was inevitable that when campaigns actually began in earnest the Democratic candidates would pick up ground. What will happen on the first Tuesday in November? Who knows?

  2. Al says:

    You’d think the Republicans in California would have learned their lesson after Bill Simon.

  3. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug they always were dreamin. A good friend of mine in San Diego who is as Republican as they come has always thought neither Whitman or Fiorina had any chance against Brown and Boxer. He thinks Brown is a complete shoo in while Boxer has a slightly tougher job but is almost certain to win against Fiorina who he thinks is deeply dislikeable just on the basis of her news coverage. Personally I think a lot of these races across the country are going to narrow as they always do as the country gets into election mode. On the day it will come down to logistics and enthusiasm levels as it usually does in mid terms.

  4. john personna says:

    Whitman and Brown were on the radio last night as I drove. They both annoyed me with some arguments, and both seemed right on some.

    In the end I think I’m going to vote for Brown for the strange reason that I don’t fault Schwarzenegger. I think Arnold did everything he could, as a Republican governor, to make the legislature do their job. He failed, and I don’t see how Whitman, repeating the dynamic, can make it work.

    Brown is kind of nutty about Green Jobs (I remember a disk jockey, Frasier Smith, in the 80’s describing Brown as the governor with solar panels bolted to his head), but I think like kind of a Nixon-to-China thing Brown is the one who can really call the government on their budget.

  5. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Brown is the one who can really call the government on their budget.”

    In other words it’s a job for a professional politician who can cut deals, make the present dysfunctional system work and take on the task of rolling back some of the craziness embedded in the system. My friend who is a Republican thinks so and so do two of my kids who are affluent Democrats.

  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Doug, would you be willing place a wager? Both Fiorina and Whitman will prevail. The LA time poll was an over sampling of Democrats. Do the research. California was once the richest state in the union. No more. We have had a Democrat lead assembly for a long long time. There is no blaming the GOP in CA for the states problems. RINO’s like Arnold have done little to help. If Brown wins, the state will be the first to need permanent federal bailouts. Business will move to Texas. The only poll that will count is the one held November 2nd.

  7. ponce says:

    “Both Fiorina and Whitman will prevail. ”

    Come November when wingnut fantasy meets cold reality I think we’re in for some first class entertainment from the Tea party -types.

  8. it would appear that California will remain a safely blue state for some time to come.

    What happens when fiscal reality comes to California? Right now the state’s plan to deal with fiscal collapse is to hold it’s breath until a big bailout comes from Washington. A bailout that’s increasingly unlikely to ever come.

  9. John Personna says:

    California was once the richest … It was also once the largest oil producing state.

  10. Brummagem Joe says:

    Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 17:28
    “Doug, would you be willing place a wager?”

    Gambling with your unemployment benefits? Is this what responsible Republicans do?

  11. wr says:

    John Personna — Califormia still produces oil. And, thanks to a Republican governor and a Republican minority in the assembly and senate that can kill any budget thanks to a ridiculous budgeting systems, California is the only oil-producing state that does not impose heavy severance fees on companies for the oil they take out of the ground. Texas, Alaska and all the rest sell their oil; we give it away. Yay Republicans!

  12. John Personna says:

    wr, find a (Hubbert style) production plot for CA to get my meaning.

  13. john personna says:

    I was on the iphone above so gave a short answer. I didn’t really mean that energy was the whole story, but it is interesting. Back in the day (1920’s or so) Standard Oil of California was huge. California oil was big before Texas took off. Of course “drill drill drill” for 90 years and you use it up. What was an energy exporting state becomes an energy importing one.

    I wonder, in the great scheme of things how much that matters, and how much an end to cheap energy contributed to California’s manufacturing decline.

    You are right that we blew it out of the ground, especially back in the day, and it was a dual edged sword. We grew the California economy like mad, but now the oil’s largely gone.