Political Rashomon: How U.S. Senate Campaigns View (or Spin) Same Poll

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Boxer: going down
It's interesting to see how the campaigns of the leading contenders for the U.S. Senate seat held by Barbara Boxer are reacting to a new Field Poll.

For the sake of argument (and parochialism), we're including Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine) among the leading contenders.

The poll certainly isn't.

It found that DeVore had support from only 9 percent of likely Republican voters in the June 8 primary, compared with 28 percent for former Rep. Tom Campbell and 20 percent for former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

About all DeVore has going for him is 40 percent of prospective GOP voters remain undecided.

Incredibly, he is treating the damning numbers against his campaign like a win.

We'll let Mr. Sunshine explain . . .
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DeVore: Who?
"You find conservatives supporting Campbell--and that can't last, it won't last," DeVore told the Sacramento Bee.

"As conservatives figure out that it's Tom Campbell who wants to raise your taxes, then what I think will happen is that for every three (percentage points of support) he'll lose, I'll probably get two, Fiorina will get one."

DeVore has already made that point this month at the California Republican Assembly in Buena Park and state GOP convention in Santa Clara, and without the kind of funding it would take to blanket the state with advertising, how exactly are conservatives supposed to figure that out?

Campbell spokesman Jamie Fisfis dismissed DeVore's prediction as "delusions of grandeur."

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Campbell: out front
"How would he get two points out of three if no one knows who he is?" Fisfis asked.

Later:

"We're not really concerned that our support would fall to DeVore levels," Fisfis said.

Ouch.

Despite being eight points behind Campbell, the Fiorina campaign also spun the poll as win for its candidate--by ignoring the head-to-head results among GOP candidates and concentrating on numbers that show either Campbell or Fiorina in a statistical dead heat with Boxer.

"Formerly, I would have said this is in the Democratic column," remarked Mark DiCamillo, the director of the Field Poll, "but I would say now it's got to be moved into the tossup column."

The anti-Congress sentiment that helped sweep Scott Brown into the Senate in Massachusetts could toss Boxer into the dustbin, DiCamillo essentially said.

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Fiorina: I won!
"This poll confirms that Barbara Boxer is in big trouble come November," began Team Carly's upbeat statement this morning. "California voters are all too aware that over her last 18 years she has stopped working for the people of this state and has started working for herself--and they have had enough."

The next line is curious, given that Campbell outpolled Fiorina: "This and other polls also show that Carly remains the strongest candidate to take her on in the fall and win."

The only mention of the head-to-head focused on the large number of undecided Republicans.

"In terms of the primary race, we are not surprised to see that many voters have yet to decide who they will support and that name identification is largely driving the results. Carly remains relatively unknown to Republican primary voters at this point, but we anticipate that will change over the next three months as she continues to proactively communicate with them."

In a separate email to supporters, Fiorina campaign manager Julie Soderlund called the poll "the highwater mark for Campbell" and that the results are obviously so troubling to Boxer that "she has President Obama rushing out to do a fundraiser for her."

Rose Kapolczynski, Boxer's campaign manager, certainly does not sound like she thinks the Democrat has the November election in the bag.

"We're obviously in a very tough political environment where voters are understandably frustrated with the economy and we're facing an (off-year) electorate that's naturally more conservative," she told the Bee. "We always thought this was going to be a challenging race, and now it's clear this is going to be the toughest Boxer campaign yet."

The results are especially troubling for the Democrat given that, among all Californians, 59 percent have no opinion of Campbell, compared to 58 percent for Fiorina and 78 percent for DeVore.

In other words, Rodney Alacala would probably get 50 percent of the votes against Boxer right now.

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