** I’ll be real time blogging from the California Democratic convention via BlackBerry at times during the day. This will include during the speeches this morning of Democratic gubernatorial candidates Steve Westly and Phil Angelides.
Here’s a link to that LA Times Poll showing a big Westly lead. Most delegates don’t know about this yet. It should have an impact on their attitudes, which are mostly pro-Angelides, if they find out. (Conventions are little cocoons, somewhat impervious to outside events and other versions of reality.) It will be interesting to see how quickly the Westly people pivot on this information and get it to the delegates. In campaigns I was in, it would already have been duplicated and slipped under every hotel room door in the downtown Sacramento area.
The dynamic of this campaign is pretty clearcut, and should already be familiar to all readers. If Angelides is to have a hope of coming back, he will attack Westly. The Arnold Schwarzenegger folks are convinced it will begin soon. Their read indicates that the positive messaging for Angelides did not work and that it is actually later in the campaign than the calendar — which tells us that the primary is five-and-a-half weeks away — would otherwise indicate. That’s because TV advertising takes longer to make an impression on voters now than it used to. Voters are viewers and viewers are consumers. Consumers are inundated by thousands of commercial messages every day. They tend to blur. And voters are increasingly jaded by politics and politicians. Especially politicians who come off as stock politicians.
Westly’s positive messaging and image positioning have been pooling with viewers for two months. He could still be defeated, it is not impossible, although the most likely scenario for a primary defeat would center on his own mistakes. The credibility of any attack on him will immediately be called into question. And of course his campaign would counter any attack, with more than ample resources to do so.
Most experts I’ve talked to agree that the independent expenditure campaign for Angelides is problematic, for reasons already familiar to readers. There is a penumbra of controversy around it now, not unlike the recent situation with Rob Reiner. It’s highly unlikely that group would be used as a vehicle for a TV assault on Westly, even if its funder, Sacramento development kingpin and longtime Angelides patron and partner Angelo Tsakopoulos, were interested in doing that. Leaders of the firefighters union tell me that they will not allow themselves to be associated with that sort of venture and the consultant doing the advertising, David Townsend, tells me that he will only do positive ads promoting Angelides.
I’ve learned that leaders of the California Labor Federation, the AFL-CIO’s statewide organization, are against an Angelides assault on Westly and have communicated that to the campaign. So we are in for an interesting time.