Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Is the Whitman campaign machine built to handle October surprises?

Whitmanbrowbn Over at The Times' PolitiCal blog, David Lauter illustrates the upward trajectory of Meg Whitman's campaign before it was revealed last week that she employed an undocumented housekeeper, a reversal of fortune that my colleague Jon Healey blogged about Monday. Lauter writes:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman was making significant progress with previously undecided voters during the summer and early fall, according to a poll of California voters conducted by USC students that concluded just before Whitman became enmeshed in a controversy surrounding her former housekeeper.

The poll indicated that the previously undecided voters surveyed favored Whitman over her Democratic rival, Jerry Brown, by a significant margin and viewed her more favorably than they did Brown. By large margins, they believed Whitman would do a better job than Brown in tackling major issues, including the state’s economy, government spending and taxes....

The respondents favored Whitman over Brown, 43% to 32%, and favored Boxer over Fiorina, 39% to 34%, a narrow lead that is well within the poll’s margin of error. In comparison with voters overall, those who said they were undecided were more likely to be women and more likely to describe themselves as independent. They were also slightly older on average than the overall voter population.

I've written before that Whitman appears to have done nothing illegal and in fact acted properly by firing her housekeeper upon learning of Nicandra Diaz Santillan's undocumented status. But there's no denying Whitman's guilt when it comes to doing a terrible job of diffusing a crisis that her campaign no doubt knew could produce itself at any time. As George Skelton noted in his column Monday, Whitman, in a debate with Brown, repeated her canned sound bite on punishing employers who hire illegal labor as if the scandal threatening her campaign was nothing more than a bad dream. Brown dutifully provided the accusation of hypocrisy that his Republican opponent all but asked for.

Whitman obviously wants to stick to her script (or she lacks the ability to go off it), a strategy that yielded positive returns until last week. She has largely bypassed the essentially free publicity of traditional news media and taken her message directly to voters via a barrage of expensive TV and radio ads, which her considerable personal fortune allows. None of this is to say it's impossible for her to make up ground between now and election day, but this story exists despite Whitman's money and message, and it exposes her campaign's -- and potential gubernatorial administration's -- ineptness at thinking on its feet.

Despite his plunging popularity in the White House, Barack Obama ran the textbooks campaign of an outsider: He came across as a fresh-faced, nimble political alternative while overseeing the disciplined operation one would expect of a political heavyweight behind the scenes, as anyone who's read "Game Change" knows. Whitman, by contrast, appears to lose control the more she tries to exert it despite having the money and strategists any major candidate would envy. Perhaps the candidate has something to do with it.

-- Paul Thornton

Photo: Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown debate at Fresno State University on Oct. 2. Credit: Getty Images


Comments () | Archives (13)

The comments to this entry are closed.


Meg Whitman is done. Meg has no clothes. When adversity has hit in the past, she has simply thrown money at it... but politics is not the same despotic or oligarchical structure of business... and without money making everything go away, Meg doesn't have the intelligence or humanity to go "off script" and get back on track.

The electorate has almost been duped into thinking that government should be run like a business, but in the end we find that the traits of the modern "robber barons" of business are the very things that have destroyed government.


It's not just the scandal - of course she was making inroads through the summer and early fall, when she was sinking her millions into misleading ads with no opposition. Brown only recently began his campaign and was already moving ahead of her before the scandal, by beating her on the issues.

Bob Sanderson

She has done the right thing if knowing for eight years that her housekeeper did not have a proper SS# is OK for someone running on a get tough on employers of undocumented aliens platform is OK.

She did alright if when confronted during said campaign by said alien seeking legal help (after nine years of service) from the billionaire to become legal she summarily fires her and tells her from now on they don't know each other. She feared public exposure and fired her yet did nothing to inform the authorities. I guess not knowing Diaz covered all bases.


Socialism in Eastern Europe collapsed in 1989
Socialism in the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991
China admitted that socialism fails and started adopting Capitalism in 1978
Vietnam has been adopting a market economy since the 1980's
Cuba admitted that socialism was failing and had to lay off 500,000 government employees
Laos began to move towards a market economy when it realized that socialism was preventing growth
North Korea can't even feed its own people

Bangladesh, Egypt, Libya, Sri Lanka, Syria, and Tanzania, all of whom say they are socialist in their constitutions, are poor as hell. Even the informal socialist countries of Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are poor.

Why can't liberals learn from the mistakes of others? Socialism makes people WORSE off. Is it any surprise that Eastern Europe is the poorest part of Europe? Is it any surprise that socialist countries are poor? Is it really this hard to understand that socialism hurts the lower class?


Meg Whitman was lied to and did nothing wrong. The American people were lied to. The housekeeper who lied to us all with falsifying documents and lying to Whitman should be deported. If this happened to Whitman how many more people are employing illegals that will come back to sue you. Maybe people shouldn't hire immigrant workers at all!


Well, based on this analysis, we know who is running / controlling CA. The illegal immigrants, led by Nicky. She wants Brown to win, so she'll get her wish, along with amnesty.


Obama ran only one kind of campaign............. DECEITFUL.


Jerry Brown is soooo Yesterday.

If you watch him in the debates, he acts like an old man who's had a stroke. He can hardly get his words out without stumbling all over them.

Would you really elect your grandfather governor????

And enough of your Yellow Journalism, L.A. Times. You are disgusting.


Jerry Brown calls Meg Whitman a whore and I have to find out about it on National news feeds because it is so deeply buried (hidden) on the LA times website. Does Gloria Alred need to call a press conference about it to get your attention!!!! Of course, I'm sure Gloria is fine with it since Meg is conservative!!!!

Ann Mere

I am a little younger than Brown, but I have witnessed his 40 yr career as a politician in the destruction of our k-university system and our state highway system all the while he & other liberals have built up the prison guard unions & state worker pension programs. Brown & his sleaze programs ARE NOT GOOD
for California. His old & useless programs & high taxes don't work in today's economy. I'm voting for Meg Whitman. I'm desperate for new leadership for California.


can someone summarize this whole thing for me?


I cannot believe that CA residents could actually vote for Jerry Brown the re-tread who nearly bankrupted the state in the 70's. He was a miserable failed politician then, and even worse now.

Meg Whitman is a change agent, an innovator, and a proven leader. CA is in dire straights financially and needs someone with the strength, vision, integrity and successful track record that Ms. Whitman has to turn the fiscal insolvency around -- quickly.

Do the supporters of Jerry Brown think he can continue the hand-outs, increased taxes, deals for unions, and deficit spending? The people in CA have a real choice to improve the state or to experience its economic ruin .

Perhaps government schools have something to do with why Brown is ahead in the polls. It makes ABSOLUTELY no sense....


For $100 I could have come up with a better campaign strategy. Who are these brilliant campaign strategists anyway? The same people who probably call Zuckerberg a genius.

Here's some free campaign advice for all you wanna be politicians: you register on the last day possible and attract as little attention as possible to your campaign until the last five weeks.

Here is where McCain screwed up (thank God): he should have announced Romney as his running-mate and then five weeks before the election, Romney pulls out for "health reasons" and they announce Palin as the surprise replacement pick. Keep that looney under wraps for five weeks, no interviews, don't talk, keep that stupid mouth shut. By election day, people are still saying, "Wow, she's HOT!" and not, "Wow, she's IGNORANT!"



In Case You Missed It...



Recent Posts
Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »


About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

In Case You Missed It...