Boxer touts fundraising, but polls look shaky

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s re-election campaign this morning said the fact that it raised more than $1.8 million in 2009’s last quarter – its best quarter so far in the 2010 cycle – denotes “growing momentum.”

“We’ve been preparing for a tough race and our supporters really came through for us,” said Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski. “With this broad base of support, I’m confident we will have the resources we need to win in November.”

The campaign said more than 14,000 of the 23,000 fourth-quarter donors were new supporters, and 90 percent of the total contributed $100 or less. The campaign’s 2009 totals are $5.9 million from 43,000 donors, of which more than $1.1 million was raised online. And the campaign said it will report more than $7.2 million cash on hand as of Dec. 31; at this point in her 2004 campaign, she had only $5 million banked.

She might need every penny: A Rasmussen Reports poll of 500 likely voters conducted last Thursday shows Boxer in tight races with some of her Republican challengers. The poll showed Boxer led former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina by three percentage points, 46 percent to 43 percent; she led former Congressman, state finance director and Cal business-school dean Tom Campbell by four points, 46 percent to 42 percent; and she led Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, by six points, 46 percent to 40 percent.

Other polls (done before Campbell jumped from the gubernatorial race to this one) didn’t show Fiorina or DeVore, but it’s unclear whether Rasmussen’s numbers are outliers or if the momentum actually lies with the GOP.

On the other hand, the GOP primary is shaping up to be a real bruiser, especially now that Campbell is in; whether the winner emerges stronger for having built consensus in the battle, or weaker for having depleted his/her money and goodwill, remains to be seen. As does Boxer’s reputation as she tries to shepherd a controversial cap-and-trade climate change bill through her Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this spring.

All of which is to say: It’s still sooooo early in this fight.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.