Another day of contrasts in the California governor’s race as two new public polls show big leads for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Appearing at the state’s annual women’s conference in Long Beach, which drew upwards of 10,000, meeting later with the Dalai Lama, the former action superstar projected exactly what he wanted. Meanwhile, trailing Democrat Phil Angelides held an anti-Iraq War rally at San Francisco State, drawing 150 to 200 students to hear his noontime call for bringing the National Guard home.
Schwarzenegger, as reported here yesterday afternoon, leads Angelides in the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll, 48% to 31%. He leads Angelides in the Field Poll, 44% to 34%. In both polls, the former Mr. Universe’s lead has increased. Neither poll is doing a push at this point to include “leaners” in the tallies.
In both polls, Angelides is drawing only around 60% of the Democratic vote. That will go up. (Field has Schwarzenegger at 77% among Republicans, which is low.)
However, not that the other news is especially promising for him, there are two bright red lights flashing for Angelides in the polls. First is that Schwarzenegger has brought his support level among Latino voters up to around one-third of the vote, which happens to be his target and what he got in the 2003 recall election. The second is that Angelides has a net negative image score; in other words, more likely voters view him unfavorably than view him favorably. (Schwarzenegger, of course, has a net positive image score.)
The allies seeming to ride to his rescue, in the form of the public employee union coalition and the state Democratic Party now using unlimited contributions to run TV ads on his behalf, are running only negative ads about Schwarzenegger. They are not doing anything to improve Angelides’ image with the electorate. You simply cannot be elected governor of California if more voters dislike you than like you.
The scale of these “independent” campaigns on the Democratic nominee’s behalf remains unclear. His allies are playing it cagy. What is known about the public employee union ad buy is that only $4 million has been bought so far. (They won’t say over what period of time.) While the ads are good, a clever rehash of the ads attacking Schwarzenegger last year in his disastrous special election, that amount of money is not going to do much in this environment.
Of course, we all expect much more than $4 million to be spent, and there are various scenarios floating around that I am investigating. But here is the problem. TV advertising rates have jumped up 40% to 45% over the past month or two, as stations take advantage of the big money ad wars over the oil tax and tobacco tax initiatives. So the interests proposing to ride to Angelides’ rescue are getting a lot less bang for their buck than they would have earlier in the year.
In other words, the $4 million that the Alliance for a Better California (ABC) is currently spending on the two TV ads helping Angelides by blasting Schwarzenegger is the equivalent of less than $3 million during the summer.
The fact that Angelides would have no legal standing as governor to pull the California National Guard — which as discussed here over the weekend when Angelides announced the gambit to two newspapers he can’t because the troops are now in federal service — out of Iraq probably doesn’t account for the relatively small crowd he drew. A noontime anti-war rally on a college campus in America’s most liberal big city should be a surefire winner, and Angelides was joined by popular Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Angelides has had trouble drawing crowds throughout this campaign. This despite the fact that he is backed by the labor unions and has on his staff one of the best advance men in the country, Ed Emerson, former head of advance for former President Bill Clinton and former Governor Gray Davis. Despite his relative lack of charisma, Davis consistently drew bigger crowds than Angelides has. Indeed, Steve Westly generally drew bigger crowds than Angelides in their very closely fought Democratic primary last spring.
The state treasurer will try again with another noontime college anti-war rally on Thursday, this time in his home base of Sacramento. NWN will provide a video documentary of the event.
Today Schwarzenegger signs the landmark global warming bill at an extravaganza on picturesque Treasure Island, in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Among others joining Schwarzenegger at the bill signing is New York Governor George Pataki. There will also be an NWN video documentary of that event.