Let's start with the polling, which in this case is unequivocal. Whatever vulnerability Stu Rothenberg and others might see for Boxer in the general election, she has a solid base among Democrats, as several recent surveys show:
- SurveyUSA (2/12-14): 71% approve of the job Boxer has been doing as Senator, 22% disapprove, 7% not sure (among Democratic identifiers).
- The Field Poll (1/5-17): 71% have a favorable opinion, 7% unfavorable, 12% no opinion (among registered Democrats).
- PPIC (1/12-19): 80% approve of the way Boxer is handling her job as U.S. Senator, 14% disapprove, 6% don't know (among Democratic likely voters).
The PPIC result suggests that Boxer's standing is slightly better among the Democrats that are most likely to vote.
Yes, California has an open primary that allows unaffiliated voters to request a Democratic ballot, but with a huge base among Democrats it's hard to imagine a scenario where Boxer is vulnerable to any primary opponent, much less a little known conservative Democrat (though obviously of interest to political bloggers). For what it's worth, Kaus implies that he's not in this to win:
[T]he basic idea would be to argue, as a Democrat, against the party's dogma on several major issues (you can guess which ones). Likeminded Dem voters who assume they will vote for
Sen. BoxerThe Incumbent in the fall might value a mechanism that lets them register their dissent in the primary.
But how many anti-Labor, anti-immigration Democrats are looking to express their dissent on these issues in a California Democratic primary? How many like minded independents are willing to skip to two hotly contested Republican contests for Governor and Senate to register such a protest? I'm guessing not many, but if you can point to data showing otherwise, I'm all ears.
Interests disclosed (for those who don't know the history): Six years ago I sent occasional emails to Kaus about polling, which he frequently quoted under the moniker "Mystery Pollster." A year later, when I started blogging under that name, Kaus was a kind booster and frequent linker.
Follow Mark Blumenthal on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MysteryPollster