| The numbers in the latest LA Times/USC poll are stunning: Jerry Brown has opened a 13-point lead over Meg Whitman with just over a week to go until the November 2 election. While that lead is clearly an outlier at this point - PPIC and SurveyUSA last week put Brown's lead at around 7 points - it's a doubling of the lead the LA Times/USC poll found just last month. And even if you don't accept that his lead is quite that big, the trend is in Brown's favor, as Whitman is collapsing with the parts of the electorate that matter:
Defections from Meg Whitman's ranks on the part of women, Latinos and nonpartisan voters have fueled a surge by Jerry Brown in the race for governor, according to a new Los Angeles Times/USC poll.
Here are the numbers:
Governor: October (September)
Brown: 52 (49)
Whitman: 39 (44)
The poll shows that Whitman is trailing among three key voter blocs: Latinos, women, and independent voters. As the Calbuzzers described it:
Among key constituencies who tilt the balance in statewide races in California, Brown leads 61-24% among independents, 59-30% among moderates and 61-27% among Latinos - not to mention his 55-34% advantage among women, who comprised 53% of the LAT/USC likely voter universe.
Ouch. And to make matters worse, Whitman has a -15 favorability rating, whereas Brown is +4. One poll respondent, a Republican schoolteacher from the Sacramento area, explained that it was the wealthy CEOs' lavish spending on their campaigns that drove her to back Brown and Boxer:
Paula Bennett, a schoolteacher in the Sacramento-area town of Acampo, said she was drawn to Brown in part by the blizzard of cash Whitman has thrown at the race.
"I like the little guy; he didn't have the money behind him like she did," she said in a follow-up interview, adding that she sided with Brown for the same reason that she favors a mom-and-pop establishment over a retail behemoth.
"We don't shop at Walmart. We shop at the local store. He just seemed like more of a down-home candidate."
Although she is Republican, Bennett is also siding with Boxer. She said she was offended by both Whitman's and Fiorina's infusions of personal cash into their races.
Speaking of the Senate race:
Senate: Oct (Sep)
Boxer: 50 (51)
Fiorina: 42 (43)
Boxer's lead is stable and Fiorina cannot crack the low-40s with the electorate. Like Brown, Boxer has significant leads among women, Latinos, and independent voters that virtually ensure Fiorina will lose and, assuming all goes well in Washington State, that Democrats will narrowly keep control of the US Senate.
So what explains this? California is clearly bucking the national trend against Democrats, even if that trend has moderated in recent weeks. Democrats are poised to pick up big victories of national importance here, even with the avalanche of money Whitman and Fiorina are spending on their own behalf.
Obviously, that spending has turned off more voters than it's gained, as we appear to be witnessing a repeat of the 2009 NYC mayoral election where voter disgust at Michael Bloomberg's wealth nearly lost him the race to a little-known challenger.
But the LAT/USC poll reveals a deeper problem: Californians do not want to elect a white man's party that caters to right-wing extremists. Whitman in particular has suffered from the Catch-22 she's always found herself in - she cannot win the general election without the votes of Latinos, but cannot maintain her right-wing base if she reaches out too strongly to Latinos, who her base hates with a virulent passion.
This isn't a surprise. Way back in April I explained how the LAT/USC poll's numbers on immigration made it clear that Californians do not support immigrant bashing and that any candidate who tried to use it to win the election would fail. Sure enough, the current LAT/USC poll shows clearly that Whitman's attack on immigrants has backfired badly:
Are immigrant a benefit or a burden to California?
Do you support a path to legalization so undocumented immigrants can keep their jobs and stay, or should they be deported?
Keep jobs: 61
How well do you think Whitman handled the housekeeper incident?
Very/somewhat well: 39
Not too/not well: 53
Whitman, of course, told a young and very successful undocumented student that she didn't belong in school and explained that she didn't back a path to legalization - leaving deportation or exploitation via guest worker status as the only option for perhaps millions of Californians.
Voters clearly do not respond favorably to immigrant bashing. Whitman may think this is 1994 (after all, she does have Pete Wilson on her campaign) but clearly the California electorate has changed. Both Whitman and Fiorina have wooed their right-wing, mostly white base, and by doing so have made themselves unelectable.
Unfortunately, not all statewide Dems have such big leads. Gavin Newsom narrowly leads Abel Maldonado in the Lt. Gov race, 41-37. And Kamala Harris is down 34-37 to Steve Cooley in the race for Attorney General. Hopefully Brown and Boxer will have enough coattails to help Newsom and Harris win - with Harris' campaign being of particular importance to California's future, especially to the rule of law and equal rights.