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GOP Voters Love Fiorina for Senate; Other Californians Don't

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Republican primary voters seem set to elevate Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, to be their candidate for the Senate race against incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer. But might they be shooting themselves in the foot?

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The L.A. Times talks the numbers, the politics, and the GOP voters' dilemma:

Voters in primaries have long had to debate whether ideological purity trumps the ability to attract votes in the middle of the electorate. This year, with days to go before Tuesday's primary, Republicans in California -- just as they have everywhere else -- appear to be coming down sharply on the side of ideology. They were turning away from Campbell, who shelved his television ads for two days this week before returning to the airwaves minimally on Thursday.

Last weekend's Los Angeles Times/USC poll had a seemingly contradictory conclusion: In the primary, Republican voters preferred Fiorina to Campbell by 15 points. In the general election, the much larger pool of voters preferred Campbell to Boxer, the three-term incumbent, by a margin of 45% to 38%, while primary leader Fiorina lost to the Democrat by almost the same margin.

That division between primary voters passions and electoral possibilities are seen in lots of elections this year, not just California. But some argue that, never mind the numbers, Boxer seems scared of Fiorina, not Campbell:

Fiorina's camp, and Republicans who dislike Campbell, deny that premise. They note that, among other problems, Campbell has already lost one statewide election, against Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2000.

"A few weeks back before it was even clear that Carly had a commanding lead in the polls, the Democratic Party put out a YouTube attack on Carly," Fiorina spokesman Julie Soderlund wrote in an e-mail . "If Boxer believed that Campbell was the strongest candidate, he would have been savaged by her supporters throughout this campaign."


Fiorina also has a money advantage, as she's spending $5 million of her personal fortune in addition to her fundraising equality with Campbell, who has political experience unlike Fiorina (though he hasn't held office for 10 years).

Boxer attacked both her potential opponents in a recent campaign appearance, as reported by the Sacramento Bee:

"All of them want to repeal health care," Boxer said of her Republican rivals. "All of them oppose the jobs bill. All of them oppose Wall Street reform. All of them are still in favor of drilling off the coast of California, unbelievable, putting in jeopardy 300,000 jobs in the recreation, tourism and fishing industry.

"This is going to be a great race, I am very excited about it because it's not going to be about personalities or who has the better TV ads. It's going to be about who's done the most and is doing the most to turn this economy around."

The notorious "demon sheep" add attacking Campbell's fiscal conservative bonafides:

Image taken by Flickr user jkarsh. Used under user Creative Commons license.

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