The California governor's race has been fairly stable this summer. Jerry Brown has a long history and celebrity in this state, has spent barely a dime of his campaign money but has a campaign operation that hasn't always been stellar (the other day Obama made a fundraising pitch for him and it crashed Brown's Web site). Meg Whitman has spent $100 million thus far on every blue chip consultant in the world and every bell and whistle imaginable but can't seem to move the needle much — the two have been in a dead heat.
Maybe Whitman is finally breaking through.
A Rasmussen poll has Whitman up 48-40, in a poll of 750 Californians. The margin-of-error is +/- 4 percentage points, so they're still barely within the MOE (theoretically, they could both be at 44) but this is movement in Whitman's direction.
Liberal pundits have long charged Rasmussen with leaning right. But polling guru Nate Silver sorta defends them, and their final poll pretty much nailed the 2008 presidential race.
The poll shows a dead heat between Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina.
A key seems to be partisans: Whitman wins 90 percent of Republicans, while Brown gets just 75 percent of Democrats. Brown needs his base, and he needs them to turn out.
So what changed from a few weeks ago when they were basically in a dead heat?
Politico reported last night that Democratic strategists around the country have sized up the summer and here's their finding: It sucked. There was the oil spill and now the debate about the Ground Zero mosque that isn't really a mosque and isn't at Ground Zero.
But most important, the economy stalled.
The White House and Democrats will rue the day they triumphantly decided the economy was in full recovery and didn't need additional help.
Brown and Boxer could be victims of the coming Republican wave, as GOP voters are far more enthusiastic about voting than Democrats, many of whom will stay home, while the mushy middle looks to punish the incumbent party for the bad economy (like 2008 in reverse.)
Look for Brown to start spending some of his money. There is a bright spot in the Rasmussen poll: Only 75 percent of Whitman voters (82 percent for Brown) say they'll definitely vote for her. That means some effective negative ads can swing some of her voters back to Brown.