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Whitman’s team wages pre-PPIC spin

By Steven Harmon
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 at 1:10 pm in 2010 governor's race, Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner.

The pre-PPIC spin has begun, and, if Meg Whitman’s team’s had anything to do with it, we’d discount the survey because the Public Policy Institute of California was out of the field (finished polling) before Whitman’s punch-back TV ad had a chance to work its way into the viewing public’s mind.

It’s an obvious attempt to limit the damage before it comes down the pike. The poll’s results will be released to the public late Wednesday night.

The PPIC poll will be the first public poll to show her Republican rival in the gubernatorial primary, Steve Poizner, drawing to within single digit percentage points behind Whitman, reflecting a number of internal polls that had signaled his comeback after he trailed by as much as 50 points.

It will be an affirmation of a collapse of epic proportions, a $60 million machine that would be in receivership if the currency were bankable ideas. After all that cash, all those gauzy ads and marketing schemes, all that trouble to insulate Whitman and elevate her as the inevitable candidate, it’s basically back to square one. With three weeks to go.

Whitman folks, though, suggest that Poizner has peaked, and that she’s on her way back to a double-digit lead. They produced a new poll, all but ignored by a press that’s not buying it, showing her with a 17.5 point lead over Poizner — 49 percent to 31.5 percent. The poll was conducted by M4 Strategies (the four m’s standing for Message, Messenger, Medium and Momentum) on behalf of the Small Business Action Committee.

Oh, by the way, the SBAC, headed by President Joel Fox, endorsed Whitman in March. So count that as an internal poll whose likely intent was to alter the horse-race metrics.

Whitman folks say her own comeback started with a widely panned ad that has the former CEO of eBay looking into the camera reassuring Republican voters that she’s “working hard to defeat” Barbara Boxer, leaving open the question of who Whitman is actually running against. She also defends her position on immigration, the issue that Poizner has seized by announcing his support of the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law, and by accusing Whitman of supporting amnesty.

Another reason to discount the PPIC poll, Whitman’s people say, is that her Get Out The Vote effort has swung into action just in time to capture early voters casting absentee ballots. Whitman has begun a massive mailing campaign, which could have an impact with early voters. Having campaign literature on hand as you fill out your absentee ballot holds its own level of influence, especially if there is no competing message. The Poizner campaign concedes it has not begun in earnest its own mailing campaign.

Another factor in her favor, Whitman’s people say, is that the furor over Goldman Sachs appears to have calmed down. Poizner has stopped running his “Vulture” ad, and there hasn’t been much in the way of new developments on that front. (It’ll be interesting to see if Goldman Sachs will have died out as an issue in the general election — if Whitman makes it — because it’s been so played out in the primary. Remember the 1988 presidential campaign, when George H.W. Bush took his hardest hits in the Republican primary over Iran-Contra, and when Mike Dukakis tried to raise it in the general, he got a big fat ho-hum from the press?)

Poizner’s campaign spokesman, Jarrod Agen, dismissed the Whitman analysis as “spin coming from a campaign losing momentum. For weeks they were talking about how they were going to win and saying we should get out. It didn’t happen. Now they say they’ve got a better turnout operation. That’s what you say when your message isn’t working.”

Agen scoffed at the notion that Whitman’s new ad would have any impact. First, he said, it’s not being run as often as previous ads. It’s difficult to find open slots for 60-second ads.

More important, he said, the ad is “way off message. It comes across as defensive and confusing. She’s talking about going after Boxer when she’s not running against her.”

The PPIC poll, he said, will reaffirm the Poizner strategy of waiting and waiting and waiting — against the outcry of supporters and pundits alike — until voters “started to focus on the race.”

“It’ll show that Meg really had a glass jaw; she ran up the score with $50 million, but now when it matters, has lost the momentum.”

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  • Pingback: Billionaire Blues: Whitman’s Declining Fortunes « The Bright Coast

  • Stand United!

    The Republicans and the Democrats have driven this country into the ground! A vote for either party is a wasted vote – In FACT Republican = Democrat.
    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result! STOP THE MADNESS!

    When voting for the lesser of 2 evils, let us NEVER forget that it is STILL EVIL!!

    The ONLY REAL Choice for California:

    CHELENE NIGHTINGALE FOR GOVERNOR 2010!!
    http://www.warnthepeople.org/96/post/2010/05/interview-with-chelene-nightingale.html

  • John W

    I can’t wait to see how this thing turns out. Whitman may be right, though. The only reason she ever had a 50 point lead was that Poizner wasn’t doing anything while she was carpet-bombing us with ads. Once Poizner started firing back, the gap was bound to narrow. But narrowing the gap and closing it are two different things. Nine points is still pretty significant. Personally, I’m completely undecided. Not thrilled about Jerry, Meg or Steve. But I will choose between the two major party candidates and not throw away my vote on somebody who has no chance.

  • Danny

    Agree with poster john Chelene nightingale is an unemployed activist…its also being reported she filed for bankruptcy last year….yeah she’s a great candidate…NOT

  • phyliss

    Chelene Nightingale for governor 2010. Is an Obnoxious BOORISH Bully!! The “Livestock” area of the county fair would be more suitable for her.

  • BK voter

    How arrogant . . . . Danny seems to have forgotten that a significant number of responsible taxpayers have also been forced into BK – in large measure owing to the shenanagans of business men and women I am sure that Danny thinks are “good” candidates for office –

    Maybe this Chelene person is worth of my vote based solely on Danny’s pretentious assessment.

  • http://www.FightBackinSac.com AyatollahGondola

    BK voter,

    You’re right that many people have been forced into bankruptcy by political and economic manipulators, however that is not a reason to abandon your principles and lie. The Nightingales did exactly that on their BK petition. They withheld financial information on their petition, and one of the credtors, a couple who loaned them money to get by supposedly, found out they were deceived and sued them this month. The judge awarded them a judgement for the full amountI might add that this couple would not have even sued her had she at least made legitimate attempt to repay them. she could have tried to find a job and make payments, but nooooooo…..she had to make a self-indulgent run for governor. She used them, plain and simple. The judge saw that.

  • judge B

    Chelene Nightingale for Governor 2010 AIP? being stripped of the USE of the party name AIP from the November ballot. AIP leaders have chosen to have Nightingale off the ballot due to her hostile and decpetive behavior. She has lied about her past bankruptcy and foreclosures and also insulted the whole AIP leadership with her nefarious criminals she chooses to align herself with. The truth prevails!! No more crooks in office!!

  • ca watchdog

    Type in ‘CHELENE NIGHTINGALE MINUTEMEN” FOR information about this candidate for governor of CA! We must be informed!!

  • brainwashed

    That Nightingale woman is insane. If you listen her rants you just can’t believe that any party would back her. I looked into this CP party, total racist group, fringe and many brainwashed nuts in there. Lowlifes, trying to scam money is my take. Like those fakey dakey preachers begging poor jerks for money. SCAM!!!!!!