The State Houses – What’s At Stake in 2010

Thirty-nine states will be electing a governor during the 2009-2010 election cycle. Of these, eighteen races will not include an incumbent and four incumbents who will be running were not elected to their current position. The recession and huge budget deficits threaten to undercut the power of incumbency for governors running for reelection.

The Current Line-Up


Gavin’s Hometown Troubles

By · Aug, 27 2009

Two little-known polls from the Left Coast show San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (the declared 2010 Democratic gov candidate) is falling further behind Attorney General Jerry Brown (who has not yet declared his candidacy) over the summer. Gavin has been traipsing around the state, introducing himself to voters who may only know him as the “gay marriage” mayor.

In June, Moore Research found Brown leading Newsom 46-26 among Democratic and “Decline-to-State” voters, a formidable but not surprising gap between a well-known established politico (Brown has been on California ballots for the past four decades) and the much younger Newsom. The firm’s August numbers, reveal Newsom is actually losing ground, despite being the only one in campaign mode. Brown now leads 49-20. 

When asked whether or not they felt Newsom has the skills to be governor, the number responding affirmatively also dropped over the summer, from 41 to 39%. The percentage saying “no” shot up from 19 to 29%.  Brown, on the other hand, has seen his numbers on the same question improve. In June, voters thought he was gubernatorial material by a 69-to-7% margin. In August, the margin was 78-to-10%

Perhaps more eye-catching are the numbers from his own backyard:

A new poll from David Binder Research indicates that while Democrats in the city may like Newsom, most don’t want him to be governor. 

In a survey among San Franciscans, 51 percent said they prefer that Attorney General Jerry Brown win the democratic gubernatorial primary. 

34 percent said they will vote for Newsom.


Newsom appears to have forgotten one of the simplest (and truest) axioms in politics, “All politics are local.”  Gavin’s effort to become politically viable beyond San Francisco requires him to moderate his stances on causes near and dear to liberal San Franciscans that repel voters in the Central Valley and Inland Empire. “San Francisco values” is not only a derogatory label in the nation’s heartland. It resonates within the Golden State as well.

Beyond Chron takes a closer look at the Binder numbers and argues the poll actually underestimates Gavin’s weakness. Responding to the Newsom spinners’ claims the survey undercounted the youth vote, BC recalculated the numbers with a larger representation of under-30s voters and finds that even by increasing the percentage of younger voters Newsom still loses his home city to the political veteran by 11 points.

Surprisingly, the gay marriage mayor isn’t even winning the LGBT-heavy neighborhoods of the Castro and Noe Valley.

Beyond Chron provides some additional hometown perspective on Gavin’s dilemma:

When I attended the California Democratic Convention in April, the first thing I saw was a group of college students sporting “Newsom for Governor” t-shirts, and waiving campaign signs. I asked if any of them were from San Francisco, and none of them were. Newsom’s Convention speech was not well received in the San Francisco section – because we all knew his rosy picture of the City was not accurate. Many of us resented his taking credit for universal health care and the Rainy Day Fund, without even having the courtesy of mentioning Tom Ammiano.

I mention these two things because it encapsulates Newsom’s base right now – young people attracted by his rhetoric, while San Franciscans are starting to lose their patience.

At this point, it looks like the Democratic nod is Brown’s if he wants it.

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Categories : California, Polls

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