Jerry Brown’s campaign manager, Steve Glazer, took to the campaign’s blog today to offer his thoughts on the state of the race. In that post, Glazer offered this fascinating nugget of information:
A survey we completed three days ago found most people who have seen a Whitman ad don’t believe her claims are true. When we asked whether these ads have improved or worsened their opinions of the candidates for Governor, the results were as follows:
Attorney General Jerry Brown: 6% improved; 4% worsened; 58% unchanged
Meg Whitman: 8% improved; 27% worsened; 31% unchanged
In more than 30 years of working on campaigns, I have never seen a candidate’s ads have such a negative effect on that same candidate.
I have to agree with Glazer here – these results are simply stunning. Whitman has been on TV almost nonstop since the Winter Olympics back in February. Everyone in California now knows who she is – and they don’t like what they see.
For Whitman’s ads to not move the dial against Brown, but to instead boomerang back on her and cause voters to dislike her more, is a damning indictment of Whitman herself and her overall campaign strategy. The Brown campaign’s numbers bolster the July PPIC poll numbers that showed 50% of voters viewed Whitman unfavorably.
Whitman’s campaign plan has been to define the terms of debate with her TV ads, undermine Brown and his record with those same ads, and position herself as a candidate of change. She eschews public engagement and hides from the media so that her carefully crafted strategy won’t be undermined by her going off-message, as she tends to do.
And yet the best she’s been able to do with this huge $100 million ad barrage is buy herself a 50% unfavorable rating and a tie in the polls with a candidate who has spent hardly a dime on his own ads.
Of course, that still means Whitman could be our next governor. A tie is a tie, after all, and it only takes a little bit of movement for her to win in November. Brown will need to make sure that when he finally does get his own campaign messaging and ads under way, likely after Labor Day and that they’re solid ads that people respond favorably to. He’ll need a ground game that can turn out his supporters, and of course, a clear vision of how he’ll solve California’s problems that he can use to inspire voters.