Boxer is taking it on the chin this week

It’s a rocky week for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. – and it’s only Tuesday.

Fiorina 6-17-10 in Sacramento (AP Photo)A CBS 5 KPIX-TV/Survey USA poll released yesterday shows Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina with support from 47 percent of likely voters and Boxer with 45 percent, which is within the poll’s four-percentage-point margin of error. Perhaps more troubling for the incumbent, the poll found twice as many Democrats cross-over to vote Republican as Republicans who cross-over to vote Democrat in the senate race.

This is the first poll to show Fiorina edging ahead; other recent ones have shown Boxer holding a narrow lead. But as the Field Poll put it two weeks ago, “Boxer’s once sizeable thirty-point advantage over Fiorina in March of last year has narrowed considerably in recent months.”

Today, Real Clear Politics moved the Boxer-Fiorina race from its “leans Dem” column into its “toss up” column. (The Cook Political Report still has it as “lean D.”) Politico picked up the neck-and-neck narrative today, too.

Keep in mind that Fiorina has been actively stumping for many months now, as she fought to overcome Tom Campbell in June’s GOP primary; her visibility has been high while Boxer largely sat out the primary season, choosing to raise and save her money for what she has acknowledged will be the toughest fight of her electoral career.

Barbara BoxerBoxer has taken to the road in recent weeks trying to illustrate how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus has brought and will continue to bring jobs to California, particularly in the transportation infrastructure construction and clean energy sectors. Fiorina has been pounding a message that these jobs aren’t enough and/or aren’t of the right kind to amount to sustained economic recovery and growth.

Fiorina pressed her momentum yesterday by noting she has accepted all debate invitations she has received: from national outlets such as Meet the Press, Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace and CNN, as well as from state forums such as KPCC/La Opinion in Los Angeles, KABC/League of Women Voters in Los Angeles, KCBS/KCAL in Los Angeles, KTVU/KQED/San Francisco Chronicle in the Bay Area, KCRA in Sacramento, KFSN in Fresno, KMJ in Fresno and The Capitol Hour with Eric Hogue in Sacramento. She accuses Boxer’s campaign of stalling on debate talks. Naturally, nobody expects a dozen debates in this race – two would be nice and three would be a lot, realistically – but Fiorina as the challenger with less name recognition and record has little to lose by pushing Boxer’s buttons on this.

In a year when many Californians are still feeling the economic pinch and the national scene seems decidedly anti-incumbent, this is no cakewalk for Boxer – but then again, it’s only mid-July, a long time until Nov. 2, and she has only just begun trying to get her message out.

To that end, the Democratic National Committee today launched a “Five Things You Should Know About Carly Fiorina” website, taking aim at the Republican nominee’s record as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, her endorsement by Sarah Palin, her comments on climate change and her spotty voting record. The DNC is urging activists to share the information through social media.

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.