The latest Field Poll is out (SF Chronicle here and Field PDF here) and it shows the favorability ratings of various leading contenders for 2010 gubernatorial race in both parties. And while the Chronicle wants to make this an “omg DiFi is the favorite” and “ha ha – Newsom sucks” story, the two most important things the poll actually tells us are:
1. DiFi has very high unfavorability ratings among Democratic contenders, and
2. Nobody – and I mean nobody – knows a thing about the Yacht Party potentials, except that they don’t like them.
Let’s take this in order. First, the Dems:
Among Dems only Gavin Newsom has higher unfavorables, but not by much, and since this poll was taken right before the election – when Newsom was getting pounded in the press and on the airwaves by the Yes on 8 campaign – this may be a low point for Newsom.
That makes the 39% unfavorable figure for Feinstein rather significant. Sure, she has the highest favorable rating – 50% – of anyone in the field regardless of party, but that’s not a great figure for such an established politician. As we’ve noted before, her numbers among Dems aren’t so hot either. I don’t see much basis for a DiFi inevitability argument, which the Chronicle is trying to get started.
Jerry Brown has a lot of room to grow, since much of that 32% “no opinion” are probably younger Californians who (like me) were born late in or after his previous terms as governor.
Antonio Villaraigosa has to be considered a sleeper here. At 39% “no opinion” that gives him room to grow as well. He has been building a solidly progressive reputation over the last year, coming out strong against Prop 8 and leading the fight for mass transit in LA (seriously, getting to 2/3 with a sales tax for rail in LA County is a major achievement). As Brian noted a few weeks ago, his endorsements were the closest match to our own. He is also making a high profile link with Barack Obama, serving on his economic advisory team. If you want to run for governor, it is a damn smart move to link yourself to a popular president who won CA by 24 points.
And what of the Yacht Party contenders? They have Bill Simon written all over them:
Even with enormous unknown ratings, none of them have a net favorability rating outside the margin of error, and Steve Poizner already has a significant unfavorability rating that will only grow once his links to voter registration fraud get a wider airing. The Chronicle article promotes Meg Whitman as a breakout star, but I’m not seeing it here. All California voters will need to hear is that she’s a Republican and that she was an advisor to the McCain campaign and that may be enough to torpedo her.
The only Republican who might have a snowball’s chance is Tom Campbell, the moderate Republican, but he didn’t fare well in a statewide race in 2000 (losing to DiFi). Of course it’s highly unlikely that the “down with the ship” Yacht Party primary voters will vote for a moderate like Campbell.
This goes to show that the 2010 governor’s race may well be decided in the June primary, which should be one of the most interesting primary fights we’ve seen in this state in a long, long, LONG time.