The Field Poll, which is the gold standard in California, breaks with other polls and with the conventional wisdom, showing Bustamante ahead of Schwarzenegger, 25-23 [*]. Simon. McClintock, and Ueberroth are taking substantial bites out of Schwarzenegger’s hide, while Huffington and Cornejo are taking only small bites out of Bustamante’s.
Bustamente’s lead isn’t much, given the likely fluidity of the race 14% undecided and the big error bands that come from a sample size under 500. But a celebrity candidate like Schwarzenegger is likely to peak when he announces, and lose votes as he has to take stands on actual issues.
Moreover, if Field is right, Bustamante holds that lead despite not having anything like a lock on the Latino vote: he’s leading A.S. by only 44-22. I’d expect some of the Latino vote to “come home” when it gets to be obvious to everyone that California might be about to have its first Spanish-surnamed governor since General Fremont rode through.
The poll reinforces my initial belief that Ueberroth, who would probably be my all-things-considered personal choice for governor from the field we now have, is never going to be a serious factor. (I suppose that might change if some of Schwarzenegger’s high-profile backers such as Riordan and Buffet were to peel off and switch to Ueberroth, but even then I’d guess that he’d simply wind up a more powerful spoiler. The White House is clearly backing Schwarzenegger, and there just aren’t enough Republican votes to go around.)
This may be another case where the electorate is actually less childish and attention-deficient than the media. I’d be delighted if Bill Schneider, who certainly ought to have known better, winds up eating his rather nihilistic words.