Republican Prospects In California Collapse

Two new polls in California seem to confirm that the prospect of a Republican resurgence in The Golden State has ended.

First, Jerry Brown seems to be headed for a fairly secure win against over Meg Whitman:

Jerry Brown’s pulling away in his quest to return to the California Governor’s office and now leads Meg Whitman 53-42.

Given how many tens of millions of dollars Whitman spent on defining herself to the voters, it’s somewhat remarkable how few of them she could get to like her. 55% see her unfavorably to only 36% with a positive opinion. Brown, on the other hand, has had voters warm up to him somewhat over the course of the campaign. His favorability ratio is 48/44, compared to 37/39 when PPP first took a look at the race back in May. His positives have increased by 11 points while his negatives have only gone up by 5.

Whitman has a 14 point lead with independents. But Brown has 86% of the Democratic vote locked up while Whitman is getting only 80% of Republicans.

Second, Barbara Boxer seems to have pulled ahead of Carly Fiorna for good:

It’s been the story of all three of her reelection runs: Barbara Boxer always looks vulnerable early in the cycle and then pulls away and wins easily in the end. It looks like that will be the case again this year, as she now leads Carly Fiorina by a 52-43 margin.

It’s not that California voters particularly like Boxer- in fact by a 46/44 margin more of them disapprove of her performance than think she’s doing a good job. But Fiorina simply has not proven to be a formidable candidate. 49% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of her to 38% with a favorable one. It’s not impossible to win as a Republican in California, but it is impossible to win as an unpopular Republican.

Fiorina would have had to do three things to win this race: win independents by a large margin, get close to 100% of the Republican vote, and get a significant amount of crossover support from Democrats somewhere in the 20% range. On the independents front she’s doing well, holding a 54-37 advantage. But she doesn’t have nearly the amount of bipartisan support she would need to win, getting only 10% of Democrats. That’s actually less than the 13% of Republicans supporting Boxer

I’m not sure I agree that another Republican would have fared any better against Boxer than Fiorina. After all, such a Republican wouldn’t have had access to Fiorina’s personal fortune, which may be the one thing that kept her competitive in this race for so long.

It may be because of the presence of a marijuana initiative on the ballot, it may just be a reflection of California’s unique electorate. Whatever the reason, California looks like it will be one of the few states to resist what seems to be a fairly strong Republican surge next Tuesday.

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. Alex Knapp says:

    Whatever the reason, California looks like it will be one of the few states to resist what seems to be a fairly strong Republican surge next Tuesday.

    Perhaps next time they shouldn’t nominate two candidates who are wealthy despite overseeing grotesque business failures.

  2. Al says:

    This may be a surprise to people outside the state but those of us here aren’t surprised at all. Bill Simon followed the same trajectory back in 2002 in his unsuccessful race against Gray Davis. Much like Whitman and Fiorina, he was too conservative to do well outside of the primaries. (Also, much like Whitman and Fiorina, his past business dealings came back to haunt him.)

    You’d think that Republican voters would have learned their lesson by squandering the chance to unseat one of the least popular governors the state has ever had. Not so much.

  3. RINO IDIOT says:

    Which of our local idiots said this a couple of months ago????

    “A five point lead in a poll with a 4.1 MoE ? Not sure what to make of that. And, it’s SurveyUSA which has been erratic all year. Will be interesting to see what other polls have to say going forward.”

    Nice selective poll watching!!!!

  4. Michael says:

    You site a PPP poll as evidence? How silly can you be. Whitman may lose but Fiorina is going to win.

  5. reid says:

    Whitman’s tens of millions of dollars? I thought she spent north of $125M? That’s a lot of tens. It’s also an outrageous sum for a state election, even California. It’s nice to know you (probably) can’t just buy your way to a seat.

    I don’t know much about Whitman, but it’s shocking that someone who can do such a horrible job as a CEO (in the SAME STATE no less) and get a golden parachute could be elected.

  6. Steve Plunk says:

    It looks like the people of California like their state moving toward complete fiscal failure. Good luck with that.

  7. Al says:

    The idea that Whitman could accomplish any more than Schwarzenegger could is fairly naive, Steve. She’d be less popular (her ideological “purity” would be more of a liability than an asset) than he ever was and she’s just as much of a political novice.

    Worse, California’s real problem isn’t with the governor or, for the most part, even the legislature. Its problem lay with its constitution which has been bloated by the ballot initiative process and pushed non-discretionary spending up around 75% of its entire budget. Short of scrapping the entire constitution and starting over nothing is going to fix that.

    Considering there are enough social conservatives in California to insist that everything from same-sex marriage to the Great Wall of California be codified into any new constitution the chances of that happening a slim as well.

  8. anjin-san says:

    > Whatever the reason

    Most people here finished high school perhaps….

  9. Pug says:

    If California is headed toward complete fiscal failure, the voters will simply pass a ballot initiative banning fiscal failure in California.

    California, my home state, is a perfect example of too much democracy. The voters vote on everything and they know very little about anything. This is what you get.

  10. James Joyner says:

    @Alex: I think it’s fair to say Fiorina’s stint at Hewlitt was awful. But eBay flourished under Whitman’s leadership and she’s been given dozens of awards and accolades for her performance there.

  11. Alex Knapp says:

    @James – Up to IPO, I’d say Whitman did a great job. Post-IPO, she wasn’t able to keep up with changes in the business, and while eBay is still a hosuehold name, revenues are way down–a trend that began with Whitman’s tenure and continues under current leadership. It’s easy to be successful when you’re the only game in town, but, Amazon Marketplace and others have sorely cut into eBay’s market share.

  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    Among other mistakes Whitman ran an ad that actually solidified my support for Brown. It touts her death penalty stance and uses cops to attack Brown for being opposed. An excellent job of clarifying a difference – that made me want to vote for her opponent.

    This is California, Meg, not Texas.