Californians don’t really like former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. A new Public Policy Polling poll finds that only 24 percent of the state’s voters view the corporate insider favorably.
Yet, Whitman swept to victory in Tuesday’s California Republican primary for governor.
What’s her secret? Money. Lots of money.
Whitman spent more than $70 million on the primary campaign—some estimates suggest tat the final tab will be closer to $100 million—with much of the money going to smear her more experienced and politically savvy opponent, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. (Poizner was rich, but not Meg-Whitman rich; he could only manage to spend $24 million.)
Whitman proved that even if money can’t buy you love, it can buy you a Republican nomination in California.
And, frankly, Whitman needn’t feel entirely unloved. After all, the winner of the Republican nomination to challenge US Senator Barbara Boxer was even less popular.
According to the Public Policy Polling survey, only 22 percent of those polled had a favorable view of former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
Yet Fiorina is the Republican nominee for Senator from California—again thanks to heavy spending from her personal bank account. She beat two far more experienced contenders, former Congressman Tom Campbell, a libertarian with real experience on fiscal issues; and state Senator Chuck DeVore, a conservative who got high marks from the Tea Party movement.
Now, Whitman will face former Governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown and Fiorina will face Senator Barbara Boxer.
Brown and Boxer both are viewed favorably by 37 percent of Californians—not great numbers, but way better than Whitman’s and Fiorina’s.
Of course, Brown and Boxer will have to keep up with the spending by their billionaire and not-quite-billionaire opponents in the race to November. Neither of the Democrats can self-finance in the way that Whitman and Fiorina will. But if they can hold their own in the money sweepstakes, they will have the advantage of being able to highlight their ability to govern—as opposed to the "ability" of their opoonents to write checks for television commercials.