California GOP leaders think they have a shot at winning a statewide election next year. According to the Chron, Republicans are particularly excited about the prospects of wealthy candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, who are running for governor, and Carly Fiorina, who is preparing a campaign for the US Senate. The state GOP optimism follows predictions by the pundit class who see large Republican gains in next year's national election. The pundits point to Obama's allegedly shrinking poll numbers and the supposed opposition to health-care reform. But are the pundits and Republicans right? Are California and the country about to embrace the party of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Tea Baggers, and gun-toting racists? It's possible, but is it likely?
First off, Obama's poll numbers have rebounded nicely since August, and are about what they were last year November when Democrats swept the election. People apparently are finally giving the president credit for staving off a Great Depression. Second, support for his handling of health-care has also shot up and is now dead-even with the opposition to it. And third, the Republicans have a major problem - their candidates are weak.
Take Meg Whitman. During the GOP's three-day state convention over the weekend, the former eBay CEO was unable to shake off her history of repeatedly failing to vote. And Fiorina has the same problem. As for Poizner, he has about as much charisma as a dead fish. Sure, the third GOP gubernatorial hopeful, Tom Campbell, might have a shot in a general election, because he's popular with moderates and independents, but he's likely not conservative enough for the Republican right-wing, and will have trouble making it out of the primary. So, the GOP might have been buoyed by the all the town hall craziness in August, but it will still be a tough fight for Republicans to turn that into a sweeping victory next year.