While Steve Poizner is trying to use the 1994 Pete Wilson playbook and bashing immigrants in order to overcome a 50-point deficit in the polls, most Californians are interested in other issues, as the most recent Field Poll shows:
Percent who rated issue as “among the most important” in the 2010 gubernatorial election
Budget deficit: 68%
Health care: 51%
Illegal Immigration: 37%
These numbers hold true for Decline to State voters, only 30% of whom rank illegal immigration as an important issue, and whose top 3 are the same as the rest of the electorate. Unsurprisingly, 58% in the nativist Republican Party rank immigration is an important issue.
What this suggests is that Steve Poizner might be able to close some of the gap with Meg Whitman through immigrant bashing, it will backfire in the general election if he were to somehow pull off the most miraculous comeback of all time and win the GOP nomination.
Unfortunately, this poll also suggests Whitman is on to something with her campaign messaging that emphasizes three issues: jobs, state budget, and education, in exactly the same order as they appeared in this poll. It’s possible that Whitman’s saturation bombing of the airwaves helped produce these poll results, but in any case she is well positioned to take advantage.
Jerry Brown is still rolling out his own campaign, but will need to also deliver clear and consistent messaging on jobs, the budget, and education. Ultimately those three are all related, since the budget should properly fund education in order to ensure that we have enough jobs for Californians. And Whitman can’t credibly claim to do that, not with her demands for massive and unaffordable tax cuts.
What the Field Poll shows is that Californians are very concerned about their future. The candidate who best addresses those concerns and shows a vision for the next 30 years will be the victor in November.