In case you missed it, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza previewed an NRSC internal poll this morning showing the California Senate race is a dead heat just 12 days from Election Day. As Cillizza notes, “Boxer and former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina (R) are knotted at 44 percent in a Tarrance Group poll conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee by Dave Sackett between Oct. 17 and 19.”
From the Morning Fix:
For months, Senate Republicans have insisted that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) can be beaten. Now, they have a poll that shows the race as a dead heat.
Boxer and former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina (R) are knotted at 44 percent in a Tarrance Group poll conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee by Dave Sackett between Oct. 17 and 19.
Among independents and those voters who decline to state a party preference — a major target for both candidates — Fiorina leads 47 percent to 34 percent. “[Fiorina] needs to improve upon this and get her ballot strength among ticket-splitters up into the mid 50′s,” writes Sackett in the polling memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Fix.
The NRSC poll is slightly more optimistic for Fiorina than a Public Policy Institute of California survey released Wednesday that shows Boxer leading 43 percent to 38 percent. The PPIC survey also shows the race for independents tighter; Fiorina takes 37 percent, Boxer takes 36 percent and 18 percent are undecided.
A look at the Real Clear Politics polling average in the race, however, suggests that California is a genuine tossup as Boxer holds a narrow one-point edge.
Republicans, buoyed by their new numbers, insist that despite the state’s clear Democratic lean — the last Republican to win a Senate race in the Golden State was Pete Wilson back in 1988 — they are in the game thanks to Boxer’s lingering unpopularity and a national breeze blowing in their direction.
One Democratic strategist who has worked in California politics expressed a level of pessimism about the race. “I gotta think that even in CA, a liberal career politician is a tough place to be in a change year,” said the source who was granted anonymity to give a candid assessment of the race.
Publicly, Democrats express considerable confidence, noting that while the race has tightened somewhat — thanks to considerable spending by Fiorina — Boxer enters the final days of the campaign with a three-to-one cash-on-hand edge. Barring Fiorina writing a huge check, they argue, it will be impossible to match Boxer’s spending over the final 12 days.
California — due to its sheer size — always draws the eyes of the nation to it. Political junkies would do well to keep their gaze glued to the state’s Senate race over the final 12 days of the 2010 campaign.