On the verge of voting day 2010, Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina remain locked in a closely contested race, with the candidates polling consistently within the margin of error. But, it is clear that Boxer is winning. She has never trailed Carly in the major, respected polls, and has been nearing the 50 percent mark that makes her essentially unbeatable.
The Huffington Post reports that in the last week, five separate polls have put Boxer in the lead. The final Rasmussen poll "Crystal Ball" puts Boxer back in the Senate, and the Field Poll's most recent tracking shows Boxer extending her lead.
Even in a year when the Republicans are sweeping back into power, Carly could never overcome the deep blue of California's politics. But she has come close, which is an indication of how weak the Democrats have become even in their strongholds. Fiorina put another $1 million of her personal fortune into the campaign last week as the final countdown approached, but it seems that even money cannot overcome the Democrats' major advantage in the Golden State (just ask Meg Whitman).
By refusing to modify her ideologically pure opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion rights, and her support for offshore drilling, Fiorina simply hit the wrong notes for Californians and will likely fail to unseat the vulnerable and unpopular Boxer. Inflexible, ideologically driven campaigns have worked well for conservatives in other states, but they have cost the Republicans a golden opportunity to take the junior Senatorial position away from the Democrats. That win would have put the Republicans in position to make a strong bid for Dianne Feinstein's seat if she should retire in two years as has been rumored.
The fact that two high profile businesswomen running at the top of the Republican ticket have failed to ignite the kind of enthusiasm generated by Tea Party candidates across the country shows that California remains a unique enclave of moderate to liberal thinking. Fiorina chose to hitch her star to the conservative constituencies of the Central Valley rather than going after support in the more liberal urban areas. That formula doesn't appear to have worked.
It would have been helpful to Fiorina if Boxer had made a major gaffe while campaigning or at the debates. And the Fiorina publicity machine tried to claim that she had almost daily. But, Boxer is too experienced a politician to hurt herself. In fact, nothing interesting ever happened during the campaign, and that worked in Boxer's favor. Maybe next time.