In what’s shaping up to be another Massachusetts-like race California governor-hopeful Steve Poizner’s poll numbers are rapidly rising late in the primary race. A month ago Poizner’s bleak poll numbers had him more than 50 points behind fellow Republican and former CEO of EBay Meg Whitman.
At a tea party event in Oceanside, California last week, Poizner said, “Meg Whitman has spent $50 million to win the governorship and she will peak too soon.” A week later the prediction appears to be true.
According to a recent Capitol Weekly Poll, Poizner trails Whitman 47-19 with one-third of voters still undecided. However, the most recent ABC poll has Poizner just 22 points behind Whitman.
While these numbers may seem daunting, one only needs to look at the Martha Coakley/Scott Brown Senatorial race in Massachusetts and how quickly the polls can change.
Meg Whitman’s free fall continues as Poizner has now shaved 28 points off of her lead in a matter of weeks. A new poll from SurveyUSA continues to demonstrate a strong shift in momentum for Poizner. In spite of spending more than $50 million on negative ads against Poizner, Whitman is beginning to lose support with each passing day, while Poizner begins his ascent with the grassroots voters.
“Meg Whitman has spent record amounts of her Wall Street billions to tell a record number of lies, but all of Goldman Sachs’ money and all the Queen’s men won’t be enough to put this rookie candidate back together again. Seven years ago, Republicans were fooled by marketing and a celebrity. It isn’t happening twice,” explained Jarrod Agen, the communications director for Poizner.
Pollster Ben Tulchin of Capitol Weekly says the results could pose some trouble for Whitman. “She’s ahead, but compared to other polling that’s out there, her numbers have dropped,” Tulchin said. “She’s spent a lot of money and she’s under 50 percent.”
It is statements like this that keeps Poizner pushing and seeking key endorsements.
One such endorsement comes from Conservative stalwart Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA). During a conference call McClintock pointed to a few reasons why he will support Poizner for California’s governor. “We simply cannot afford anymore Republicans in name only in California. Meg is nothing more than a Schwarzenegger third term.”
If Whitman were to win the primary, McClintock said Californians would have two choices, a third term of the current governor or a third term of Jerry Brown.
“California’s recent history has the state with the largest deficits and largest tax increases all under Republican watch. California Republicans need to wake up,” McClintock said. “Voters need to fight for the soul of the Republican Party.”
This is where the grassroots tea party movement comes into play. In primary races throughout the country, establishment candidates are finding it tough to gain the trust of the voters. An example of this is the Florida Senatorial primary. Establishment Republican Governor, Charlie Crist, trails his Senate opponent Marco Rubio who has earned the support of tea party voters.
The tea party movement sets themselves apart from other groups in several key categories. According to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, tea party folks are better educated than most Americans; they make a higher than average salary and most describe themselves as conservative.
Congressman McClintock couldn’t agree more; “they (tea party) are one of the most sophisticated electorate and they know enormous damage has been done and they are looking for a candidate who is for smaller government, conservative spending and their political record.”
The Congressman explains that the country is seeing a 1994-like groundswell of unknown candidates beating incumbents or anti-establishment contenders coming forward.
Luckily for relative political newcomers it’s their record and values not the dollars in the bank that is resonating with angry voters. These discontented constituents are paying attention to details, researching candidates and watching debates.
This bodes well for the Poizner camp who claims the former EBay executive’s TV messaging simply isn’t resonating with Californians. Agen points to Whitman’s reluctance to embrace conservative Republican values as one of the reasons for her sliding poll numbers.