Jack Ohman

Condi, Kamala face tough challenge from Sutter and Beth in this poll


A new Field Poll is out, and there are some surprising results in the race for Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat. For example, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has a positive rating of 49 percent, and California Attorney General Kamala Harris has a positive rating of 46 percent.

At this point, polls mean absolutely nothing. Had the Field Poll added the names Benedict Cumberbatch and Pablo “Panda” Sandoval, for example, I suspect that Rice and Harris wouldn’t have done quite as well. Panda needs to dump a few pounds to get in Senate race shape, but he’s got until 2016, which is way better for him than this April. Panda would probably do better in a Massachusetts Senate race.

Let’s say Rice did want to run for the U.S. Senate in 2016. She’d probably offer a bit more foreign policy depth than the amiably vague Harris, who is quickly reading up on the subject and is being briefed heavily while devoting “100 percent” to her current job.

Reporter: “Attorney General Harris, ISIS is threatening the entire Middle East with a force of between 20,000 and 31,000 insurgents; Iran wants to obtain 5,000 centrifuges to build a nuclear weapon; President Putin is threatening Ukraine; and al-Qaida operatives are spread throughout Europe. What do you think the United States’ role should be?”

Harris: “I agree, 100 percent.”

It would also be intriguing if the Field Poll asked more pointed questions to voters.

“If the election were held today, would you simply pretend to have heard of people who were running, or do you actually know who they are?”

For example, in another Field Poll, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leads the GOP presidential pack in California with 18 percent of likely voters, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who got 16 percent.

My suspicion here is that the people who say they’re for Walker actually are the same 18 percent who, in 2012, said they were supporting, in rapid succession, Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and an obese calico cat named “Beth” featured in a YouTube video.

Polling is an inexact science. The outcome of a poll depends entirely on how a pollster phrases the question.

OPTION A: “If the 2016 U.S. Senate election were held today, would you be favorably inclined to support an attractive, energetic, widely known figure who is politically influential and has the last name Brown?”

OPTION B: “If the 2016 U.S. Senate election were held today, would you be favorably inclined to support a corgi?”

In polling, something called “crosstabs” are very important. Crosstabs are the breakdowns of the raw numbers by category, such as Condi Rice enjoying the support of 89 percent of voters 49-64 who are favorably inclined to support bald-faced lying to involve the U.S. in a war.

Polls are rarely entertaining. To make them more so, perhaps the Field Poll should think about throwing in random questions about the candidates, like this:

“Would you be more favorably inclined to support Antonio Villaraigosa if he were dressed as Pablo ‘Panda’ Sandoval?”

“If the election were held tomorrow, would you be really happy if the political process were more like ‘Game of Thrones’?”

“If you are between the ages of 18-29, would you vote for Kamala Harris, Antonio Villaraigosa, Xavier Becerra, Loretta Sanchez or prefer to sit in front of a 52-inch TV screen watching ‘SportsCenter’ while checking your email on your cellphone and texting 24 different women you met on Tinder?”

The more elaborate the name of the poll usually is a sign of trouble with the poll’s credibility. So, the Field Poll is generally pretty good: simple, bland, agrarian-sounding. If someone identifying themselves as a representative from SurveyAmerica21stCenturyOpinionResearchAmericaAgainUSA, it’s likely that they’re just talking to you and a few people in line at Subway.

Anyway, I have a sneak preview from the Field Poll of the 2016 Senate race outcome, and Sutter and Beth are looking pretty good right now.

Sorry, Panda.