With Barbara Boxer suddenly against the ropes in the polls, is Democratic opponent and mega-blogger Mickey Kaus pulling a Ralph Nader in his recently launched campaign against her? In other words, will he spoil her parade and open the door for a Republican to take over her seat?

They are questions worth asking as Boxer trails Republican senatorial hopeful Tom Campbell 44 percent to 43 percent among a sampling of random voters in the latest California Field Poll (PDF). If Carly Fiorina wins the Republican nod to battle Boxer, voters would favor the incumbant 45 percent to Fiorina's 44 percent, according to Thursday's poll.

The Christian Science Monitor notes that Boxer's latest poll numbers represent a “double-digit drop” in popularity for the senator at a time when people aren't too happy with congress in general.

The paper ponders whether Boxer could succumb to “the Scott Brown effect,” a reference to the Republican's upset victory in Massachusetts for a Democratic seat once held by Sen. Ted Kennedy.

“The fact that three-term Barbara Boxer is in such deep trouble early in an election year is a warning signal to both Democrats and long-time incumbents,” Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, tells the Christian Science Monitor. “The voters are restless and in a surly mood.”

Although Kaus' Quixotic but thought-provoking (and attention-grabbing) campaign will only last through the June primary, when Boxer will likely take the party nomination and duke it out on her own against the Republican nominee, whatever centrist criticism he has will surely be absorbed as ammunition to use against her by her Republican opponent.

It certainly can't help her campaign when the Venice-based journalist is calling her soft on immigration, gung-ho on big unions, and a pleaser of the “party's interest groups, often at the expense of the needs of average individuals and the party's own ideals.”

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