Which way in California?

It’s well understood that the Republicans have little margin for error if they hope to regain control of the U.S. Senate today. Much of the focus is on winning two of these three tough races — West Virginia, Washington, and California. But for a “two of three” scenario to be sufficient, Republicans also need to win a series of close races in states like Colorado, Nevada, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.
If this is a big wave election, it is not unreasonable to expect Republicans to run that four-state table. In such an election, I think we also have a shot in Washington. West Virginia may be a bridge too far though, considering how popular the Democratic candidate, Gov. Joe Manchin, is.
This leaves California. For months, I’ve believed that Carly Fiorina will upset Barbara Boxer. My reasoning is the mirror image of that which makes me think Manchin will win in West Virginia — Boxer is unpopular with her constituents. But the polls consistently show Boxer ahead at just about at the 50 percent threshold. By election day, one is well advised to believe the polls when they are unambiguous.
However, I asked our friend Dafydd ab Hugh of Big Lizards, a Californian, what he thinks the odds are of a Fiorina win. Here is what he said:

Very good, actually. The most recent Rasmussen I’ve seen showed her only 3 points behind BB — and I believe Rasmussen is still using a turnout model that mirrors the 2006 and 2004 elections, where California Democrats had a 6-point turnout advantage over Republicans… which I think very much underestimates GOP enthusiasm. Also, I’m pretty sure Carly Fiorina (and Meg Whitman) have much better GOTV programs than their Democratic counterparts. Whitman was on Hugh Hewitt a few days ago, and she noted that she’d had about 15,000 volunteers for her primary GOTV; but that has expanded to more than 40,000 volunteers for November 2nd.
Even the most recent PPP poll, which is a Democrat poll, had Boxer only 4 points ahead of Fiorina (and Whitman only 5 points behind Brown). That’s strong evidence. If Fiorina and Whitman head into election day just a few points behind, I believe the combination of the ground game, general anti-GOP bias in the polling, and the wave effect will carry both over the finish line.
Those polls that show the Republicans here 9-11 points behind all seem to have one thing in common: They’re using a “likely voter” filter that includes a turnout model that mirrors (or is even more Democratic than) the 2008 election; the idea that Democrats are more eager to vote this year than in 2008, when Barack Obama was running, is frankly ridiculous. (In that election, California Dems had a 12-point turnout advantage over Republicans.)
I believe that both Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman are going to win; California isn’t going to be a one-state Democratic tidal wave.
I hope that’s not just my own wishful thinking…!

Amen to that.

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