A new poll shows Republican senate candidate Carly Fiorina tied with Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. Both are backed by 44 percent of voters, with 5 percent remaining undecided and 6 percent opting for a different candidate.
The poll, done by the Tarrance Group, was commissioned by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. It has an error margin of plus or minus 4.1 points.
Among those who refuse to state their party or identify themselves as independent, Fiorina (47 percent) is ahead of Boxer by 13 points, although the Tarrance Group’s Dave Sackett warns that Fiorina needs to increase her support to the mid-50s in this group.
Fiorina is doing well among Republicans, currently supported by over 80 percent and considered likely to increase that to over 90 percent by election day. Boxer is a little behind, backed by 76 percent of Democrats. Fifteen percent of Democrats indicated support for Fiorina, a number that could have big payoffs in a state where 44 percent of voters are Democrat and only 31 percent are Republican.
Fiorina, who is leading in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and the Central Valley, needs to whittle away at Boxer’s advantage in the populous San Francisco area, where Boxer could conceivably attract enough votes to help overcome Fiorina’s lead in other areas. Looking at the voter registration in some of the San Francisco Bay Area counties shows why Boxer could capture a huge number of votes: Alameda county voter registration is 57 percent Democrat and 15 percent Republican; Contra Costa county is 50 percent Democrat and 26 percent Republican; San Francisco county is 57 percent Democrat and 9 percent Republican; San Mateo county is 52 percent Democrat and 21 percent Republican; and Santa Clara county is 46 percent Democrat and 24 percent Republican.
Sackett also notes that Boxer’s past strategies are not succeeding as well this time. “Boxer has failed to make Fiorina an unacceptable alternative in the final weeks of the election — as she has always been able to do in the past,” he wrote. “Both candidates enter the last 11 days at parity in terms of their image ratings, with both of them at a pure 1:1 favorable to unfavorable ratio.”
“The Boxer campaign has also shown that they … do not have a playbook for what to do thematically in the last eleven days. They have already tried to prosecute the messages they believe would render Fiorina unelectable — worst CEO, right-wing extremist, outsourcing, etc — and none of them have performed as they needed them to,” Sackett added.
Is this race winnable for Fiorina? Sackett thinks so. “At the point in time when the Fiorina campaign is able to generate the weight of message, in the form of gross ratings points, in the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets, to be able to bring focus back onto Boxer, the campaign will be able to convert the remaining Independents and undecided voters that it needs to capture a plurality on election day,” he said.
Boxer, however, continues to have a 3 to 1 funding advantage over Fiorina, which could make a crucial difference in the last days before the election.