February 25, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Condoleezza Rice’s Poll Standing: Star Power Still A Political Factor:

Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration and now a Stanford University professor, has stated very clearly she would rather attend college basketball games and help choose the college football playoff teams than be a U.S. senator.

At 61, she says she prefers a secure job in academe, playing the piano in her spare time, mentoring students and then considering an executive-level job if the Republicans take back the White House. She probably would also rather not face the inevitable questions a campaign would bring about her role in government deceptions that led to this country’s long and costly war in Iraq.

“A campaign for the Senate is out of the question,” Rice has said. She’s done nothing counter to that statement, not raising money, not speechifying or anything else, keeping a low profile in general even as others visibly line up to run for the seat Democrat Barbara Boxer will vacate next year.

And yet, the latest Field Poll shows Rice leading the senatorial field, including Democrats and Republicans, Latinos and Anglos and African-Americans.

This is remarkable in California, a state that hasn’t voted Republican in a presidential or Senate election since 1988 and one where Democratic voter registration runs 15 percent ahead of the GOP’s.

What does it mean? Maybe that voters are not yet paying much attention, despite the highly publicized machinations of figures like state Attorney General Kamala Harris, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and numerous members of Congress from Orange County’s Loretta Sanchez to John Garamendi of Mokelumne Hill in Calaveras County.

Some survey respondents told Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo they’re not yet ready for political action. “It’s just too far away,” said one. “I am waiting for more information to come out.”

But Rice’s standing three points ahead of current Democratic front-runner Harris probably also indicates the same thing that Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated 12 years ago when he dominated the recall election that ousted then-Gov. Gray Davis: Politics in California has never been only about party. It’s always also been governed by personalities, and stars from other fields can translate that into political success.

Republican Schwarzenegger won the recall and later was easily reelected not because he’s a distinguished politician or statesman, but because of his repute as a muscleman actor.

Similarly, when the great semanticist S.I. Hayakawa won election to the Senate, it was because of the television exposure he got while countering massive student protests as president of San Francisco State University. Onetime soft-shoe dancer and actor George Murphy, also won a Senate seat as a Republican because of his prior reputation. And John Tunney later won that same seat mostly because his father was a heavyweight boxing champion.

A quick look at how the only Republicans avowedly considering a run for Boxer’s seat fare in the Field survey also demonstrates that a lack of star power can be fatal when your party is in the minority.

San Diego County Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, given to aphorisms about how his family has lived the American Dream, draws just a 20 percent level of voters “inclined to support” him. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who ran unsuccessfully for state controller last year, and former state GOP chairmen Tom del Beccarro and Duf Sundheim have similar levels of support.

Almost every Democrat in the potential field does much better, with Sanchez and fellow Congress members Garamendi, Jackie Speier, Xavier Becerra and Adam Schiff all drawing support in the 29 to 39 percent range, well above the mine-run Republicans but far behind Rice.

It all goes to show that while the Republican label has been thoroughly tarnished in California and the GOP has done little to shake off the anti-Latino reputation it got from Gov. Pete Wilson’s all-out support for the ill-fated anti-illegal immigrant 1994 Proposition 187, individual Republicans can still do well.

Which means there’s still potential for a healthy two-party system in this state. To make that real, though, the GOP must recruit charismatic candidates with star power – like Condoleezza Rice.

in Opinion
Related Posts

S.M.a.r.t Column: Gelson’s Looms Large

February 22, 2024

February 22, 2024

Our guest column this week is by SMCLC (the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City). SMCLC is a well-established...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Top Toady Town

February 18, 2024

February 18, 2024

Throughout history, from the ancient Romans and Assyrians to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, siege warfare has served as an...

S.M.a.r.t Column: The Sunset of Home Ownership

February 11, 2024

February 11, 2024

We are watching the sunset of our historical and cultural American dream of home ownership as we now are crossing...

SMa.r.t. Column: B(U)Y RIGHT

February 4, 2024

February 4, 2024

“By Right” state housing laws that give developers, in certain projects, the ability to ignore codes ‘by right.’ Well, that...

S.M.a.r.t  Column: Serf City

January 28, 2024

January 28, 2024

Homelessness is a problem in California, and nowhere is this more evident than in our fair city, where the unhoused...

S.M.a.r.t  Column: Bond Fatigue

January 22, 2024

January 22, 2024

Last week’s SMart article,  described two critical problems faced by our Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD): the declining...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Peace on Earth

December 27, 2023

December 27, 2023

We are all, by now, saturated with jingles, holiday cards, “ho ho ho’s,” countless commercial advertisements, and exhortations to feel...

S.M.a.r.t Column: On the Clock with Mayor Brock

December 17, 2023

December 17, 2023

I became Santa Monica’s Mayor on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, following a simple “switch of the chairs” transition with outgoing...

S.M.a.r.t Column: SANTA MONICA CITY COUNCIL 2024

December 10, 2023

December 10, 2023

Position:Seeking Santa Monica City Council Candidate(s) Introduction:Exciting opportunity for the right candidate(s) to work with like-minded Council members committed to...

S.M.a.r.t Column: ARB (NOT Ready to Build!)

December 3, 2023

December 3, 2023

Santa Monica City’s Architectural Review Board (ARB), established in 1974, acts “…to preserve existing areas of natural beauty, cultural importance...

SMa.r.t. Column: We are thankful for….

November 27, 2023

November 27, 2023

SMa.r.t. would like to wish you all a great Thanksgiving with friends and family and also to thank its readers...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Make the City New Again

November 19, 2023

November 19, 2023

When the COVID crisis struck, it cut the city’s income in half, demolishing many businesses and causing widespread layoffs and...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Four Futures

October 29, 2023

October 29, 2023

As well described by Paul Krugman, all cities have a core competency: things they do well or better regionally or...

SMa.r.t column: Beautiful Quartz Countertops Are Hurting Workers and Should Be Banned

October 9, 2023

October 9, 2023

Quartz countertops are super popular because they’re tough and can handle stains, scratches, and heat. But there’s a big problem:...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Architect’s Son Reflects On Civic Auditorium

October 2, 2023

October 2, 2023

Welton (David) Becket (1902-1969), pictured above, backed by a picture of our Civic Auditorium, was the designer of that famed...