New polls show toss-ups in gubernatorial races in three large, Republican-held states: Texas, California, and Florida. Even in a bad year, we could pick up some pretty big prizes.
A new Rasmussen poll released today shows incumbent Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) leading former Houston Mayor Bill White (D) by just four points, 48-44. The poll remains virtually unchanged from a month ago, when Perry led White 49-43.
What shocks me most about this poll, however, isn’t that White is within striking distance of beating Perry – it’s that Perry has a favorable rating of 59%. Governor Good Hair, he of the forced HPV vaccinations and unwanted freeway, the same one who was re-elected with just 39% of the vote in 2006 and has since struggled to get back to 50%. And yet despite that astonishing 59% approval rating, he can’t crack 50 in the polls and leads White by just four points. It helps that White is such an excellent challenger, known for his remarkable handling of Hurricane Katrina and his ability to please virtually everyone while Mayor of Houston.
California is another possible flip – an online poll from the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal showed last week that Democrat Jerry Brown leads Republican Meg Whitman 44-43. This is in line with the Real Clear Politics average, which gives Whitman a 43-42 lead (with no polls in April). An online survey usually isn’t anything notable, but it’s the first anything out of California in several weeks and it does say the same thing as other polls.
Another state that could switch hands is Florida, where a Quinnipiac poll released today shows Republican State Attorney General Bill McCollum leading Florida CFO Alex Sink 40-36. Other good news for Sink and the Democrats in Florida is that President Obama’s approval rating is now 50-45, up from 45-49, and that 54% of voters are opposed to McCollum suing the federal government over health insurance reform.
This isn't an anti-Democratic year. It's an anti-incumbent year.
On June 1, my job transfers from Carlsbad, CA to Garland, TX. I have some nervousness about moving from blue (except on taxes) to red Texas. Plus I have lived all but about 6 years of my life in my native state.
I'm hoping Bill White can pull it out against Rick Perry, though I think Perry's machine may be too much, as Texas still has too big a percentage of conservatives for Democrats to win statewide. Maybe if it was another (less-GOPish) year, White would have a good chance. But the state is slowly changing, so there is some hope down the road. My estimate of White's chances--35%.
So why is the GOP having a revival in California? Because of a lame Democratic party which has neglected the grassroots, forgotten about building a bench, and offering up bad candidates like Jerry Brown. Jerry Brown has no campaing and no message right now. Plus Meg Whitman (who reminds me a lot of Margaret Thatcher) has used her fortune on an effective media campaign. I think she will win going away. California is in a lot trouble, and the budget problems have to be fixed. Whitman will destroy a lot of what makes California great, but where's the progressive alternative? Where's our solution to making government services more efficient? Chance of a Jerry Brown win--less than 10%.
Meanwhile, while Carly Fiorina will likely not be the nominee, her ads are driving up Barbara Boxer's negatives (51% unfavorable in the latest Field Poll). Barbara Boxer's style has always turned off swing voters, but she has benefitted from weak opposition. In this environment, with reduced AA & Latino turnout, Boxer is in trouble. A lot will depend on whether health care reform passes and how well it's received. Boxer's chances of reelection--45%.
I may be pessimistic, but this not a good year for Democrats in California. Maybe after I move, I may have a new username.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced today he is dropping out of the race for governor -- citing his young family and responsibilities at City Hall.
"It is with great regret I announce today that I am withdrawing from the race for governor of California. With a young family and responsibilities at city hall, I have found it impossible to commit the time required to complete this effort the way it needs to -- and should be -- done," Newsom's campaign announced in a press release
"This is not an easy decision. But it is one made with the best intentions for my wife, my daughter, the residents of the city and county of San Francisco, and California Democrats," Newsom stated in the release.
Barring the entry of Diane Feinstein into the race, which does not appear likely whatsoever, this should put Attorney General/former Governor/former Secretary of State/former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown in the driver's seat for the Democratic nomination in the California Governor's race. And considering that Brown leads each of his potential Republican opponents by margins in excess of 20 points, the return of Governor Brown may not be too far off.
The California Field Poll (.pdf), the state's most respected pollster, has released new numbers on the state's upcoming gubernatorial contest that confirm what many might suspect: The Democrats have a great shot at retaking the state's governorship in 2010.
Jerry Brown (D) 50, Meg Whitman (R) 29
Jerry Brown (D) 48, Tom Campbell (R) 27
Jerry Brown (D) 50, Steve Poizner (R) 25
Gavin Newsom (D) 40, Meg Whitman (R) 31
Gavin Newsom (D) 38, Tom Campbell (R) 33
Gavin Newsom (D) 39, Steve Poizner (R) 30
In no potential matchup do the Republicans get closer than 5 points, nor do they poll above a paltry 33 percent. Indeed, regardless of the Democrat they face, they average just 29.2 percent support (not far from their median 29.5 percent level of support). If these numbers hold, Republicans might be in for the type of drubbing they faced in November 2008, when Barack Obama pulled in a greater share of the state's presidential vote of any candidate since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936.
The Democratic primary shows former Governor Jerry Brown leading by 20 points, 47 percent to 27 percent -- a factor of higher name recognition but also higher net favorability than San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (who actually earns a higher unfavorable than favorable rating from voters overall, though not among Democrats). The GOP primary is closer at present, with former eBay executive Meg Whitman and former Congressman Tom Campbell bunched together at 22 percent and 20 percent, respectively, and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner trailing with 9 percent.
But to reiterate the takeaway from this poll, Republicans are in bad shape to hold on to the California governorship in 2010.
Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to speak with Gavin Newsom, the Mayor of San Francisco and a candidate for Governor of California in 2010 -- the first in what I hope to be a long series of conversations with candidates running for office during the current cycle (which itself is a continuation of interviews posted on this site over the past four and a half years). The questions for this interview were culled from among those you posted here at MyDD and posted via Twitter @jonathanhsinger.
During our conversation, Mayor Newsom and I spoke about a range of topics, including the current budgetary mess in California, the need for constitutional reform in the state, and Proposition 8. You can listen to the interview or read a rush transcript below, or download the audio as a very large .mp3 file here.
Jonathan Singer: The first question is pretty simple. Is California governable?
Gavin Newsom: Absolutely yes, with a significant provision that we need to dramatically look at reforming the governance in the context of looking at structural reforms and looking, as I have long believed, at opening up a framework around a constitutional convention to address those reforms.
But I do believe that we're at a point that in absence of those reforms it's becoming more difficult to govern the state, but by no means is it unmanageable and ungovernable. I have never accepted that proposition. Incidentally, that's exactly what people said about San Francisco for many, many years and I just don't buy the proposition.
Singer: Does the next Governor in order to succeed to get the mandate - whether it's through a constitutional convention or a referendum of some sort - does the next Governor have to run on that in 2010 to make sure that happens?
Newsom: I think by definition if you believe in it you should run on it. If whatever it is you support, let folks know what you're supporting and be forthright and deliberative about it. But the answer is yes, if you believe in opening up an honest and thoughtful and deliberative debate about civil service reform broadly. About structural reform specifically. About looking at entitlements. And looking at the system of governance, be it the two-thirds requirement on taxes/budget. Looking at issues as difficult as Prop 13, or as challenging as the need to reform Medi-Cal, which I believe is long overdue. Or prison reform. These things need to be discussed in a campaign honestly and forthrightly.