| Field is out with their Senate polling data, and Barbara Boxer maintains a narrow lead over Carly Fiorina, 47-44.The number is an actually an improvement for Boxer over the March 2010 numbers, when Boxer's lead was just a single point. In the end, both of these numbers are within the margin of error. All that is to say that we should be expecting a fight for the Senate race this fall.
Whereas Jerry Brown has failed to capture the hearts of some traditional Democratic demographics, Boxer has built on these constituencies. She leads the 18-39 demographic by a 52-33 tally, and Latinos by 55-32. While turnout will be critical to who wins both elections, Fiorina (and Whitman) need to make serious dents in both areas of support if they are to win their respective elections.
On the flip side, Boxer probably needs to consolidate Democrats a little bit, as it appears that Fiorina has mostly done that on her side of the divide. But, as the favorability numbers, Boxer is a more polarizing figure. Her favorability numbers are under water at 11 (4152). Meanwhile, unlike Whitman who has bought her way into universal recognition, Fiorina is still something of an unknown quantity. She's at +5,(34-29), but the largest group is "no opinion."
The task for the Boxer Team (and allies) is to fill in those blanks. The story doesn't even take any aggrandizing. Fiorina is a failed CEO, who was fired by HP for both poor morale, spying on her employees and journalists, and poor performance. Oh, and she was even named the 19th worst CEO in America. Sadly, she was out-terribled by Lehman's Dick Fuld. Her failed record is not even that much of a mixed bag, she rose to the level of her incompetence, and boy, was she incompetent.
More from Robert: Boxer's numbers aren't as strong as we'd like. Her disapproval rating among likely voters is 48%, with 42% approval. What explains this?
The San Francisco Chronicle article on this poll suggests Boxer is suffering from the public's overall anger at Washington DC:
One of Boxer's more vexing problems, analysts say, is that opposition to her is not just about her. She has become an avatar for broader voter frustrations about the struggling economy, President Obama and the growth of the federal government.
"It's a reflection of the effectiveness of a Republican strategy to characterize Sen. Boxer as everything that's wrong with the government," said Larry Berman, a professor of political science at UC Davis. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., another longtime Democrat facing a tough re-election challenge, faces a similar predicament, Berman said.
When the economy is struggling, DiCamillo said, "the voters tend to take it out on the incumbents."
This makes sense to me. We have seen the Obama Administration fail to bring change to this country. Their two accomplishments, the stimulus and health care, were watered down to the point where voters don't see them as being effective, although Boxer is rightly going out there and showing that the stimulus did indeed create jobs - and that we need more of it.
But with Democratic Senators like Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln doing all they can do to destroy the Democratic majority, and with the White House failing to provide strong leadership to challenge this or to achieve progressive ends, Democratic voters are losing confidence and enthusiasm, and other voters are starting to grow uneasy about incumbents as a whole.
Boxer is therefore suffering that collateral damage, even though she has been one of the best, most progressive Democrats we have. However, she is in a stronger position than these toplines suggest.
Fiorina hasn't gained any support over her March 2010 numbers, and Boxer is down 2 but that is within the margin of error. Independent voters are still with Boxer, 47-39. Boxer, unlike Brown, also retains strong backing from core Democratic constituencies: she leads 52-33 among voters under age 39, and 55-32 among Latinos.
Let's also recall the USC/LA Times poll from last month, which showed that voters want a Senator who will work to implement Obama's agenda. That's Barbara Boxer, who is right to embrace a president who, despite his failures that frustrate voters, remains popular in California.
Finally, we can't forget that Fiorina is so far to the right that she is going to have a difficult time getting elected here. Fiorina pledges to repeal health care reform and won't use government to create jobs. She is running as a Herbert Hoover candidate, planning to do to the US what she did to HP.
Californians don't want that - and Barbara Boxer knows it. The Boxer campaign has a tough fight ahead of it. But it's a fight she knows how to win.