In California today, GOP senatorial candidates Carly Fiorina, Chuck DeVore, and Tom Campbell faced off in a debate that focused almost entirely on big government. Bailouts, taxes, budgets, and (much less so) immigration were the dominant topics. Not a single foreign policy or national security related question was raised by either the debate hosts, two California radio personalities, or the candidates. But there was plenty of time for what one of the radio hosts described as “mud-slinging” between the candidates, when the candidates were allowed each to ask a question of one another.
DeVore attacked Fiorina's support of a California proposition, which, DeVore claimed, raised taxes for the California teachers’ unions. In response, Fiorina disputed the claim and turned personal: “I’m sure it’s very frustrating for Chuck DeVore to have so many conservatives supporting me,” said Fiorina, who was recently endorsed by Sarah Palin. "Maybe it makes Chuck DeVore, who is dog-paddling at 14 percent in the polls ... feel better to belittle other people's conservative credentials."
Campbell had a clever question for Fiorina. He asked if Fiorina had voted for him in his 2000 bid against Dianne Feinstein. Fiorina said no. (She has been attacked several times for not voting in political elections in the past.) Campbell said that he was disappointed that Fiorina would not support the Republican candidate in the election. Fiorina replied that she didn't vote for either candidate.
In the two latest polls to gauge the California election, Fiorina has opened up a wide lead on Campbell, with DeVore remaining in distant third. Public Policy Polling today released a poll that showed Fiorina with 41 percent of the electorate, while Campbell received 21 percent and DeVore only 16 percent. Yesterday, SurveyUSA’s poll showed Fiorina receiving Fiorina 46 percent of the support, Campbell 23 percent, and DeVore 14. Campbell was quick to rule out these numbers, suggesting that “robo-polls” can’t be trusted.
But if the polls are right, there certainly didn't seem like a game-changing moment in the debate that would have knocked Fiorina 20 points back and out of first place.