Whitman’s Hispanic Outreach Paying Off

July 7th, 2010 at 4:36 pm | 14 Comments |

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With so much national media attention focused on the new Arizona immigration law, one would think that Meg Whitman would be struggling to gain any traction with Hispanic voters in California. But the results of a new Field poll suggest that Whitman is actually gaining support among Latino voters and as a result, has pulled into a virtual dead heat with Democrat Jerry Brown.

A new Field poll shows Brown leading the race 44% to 43% with 13% of California voters still undecided. But by far the most interesting part of the poll is that it shows Whitman gaining Hispanic support. 18% of Californians are Hispanics, and most of the time, they vote for Democrats. Thus, if Jerry Brown is going to win in California, he needs to win the Hispanic vote by a substantial margin in order to offset Whitman’s lead amongst white, non-Hispanic voters (who make up 69% of the state’s likely voter electorate).  The Field poll has non-Hispanic voters favoring Whitman 48%-40%). Yet Field only finds Brown leading by eleven among Hispanic voters (50%-39%). Back when Field surveyed the electoral landscape in January, Brown’s lead was at 24 points. One would think that having a Republican governor in a neighboring state pushing an unpopular (among Hispanics, at least) immigration law would have given Brown a bigger boost.

How is it possible that Brown has lost ground among Hispanics despite such a prominent debate raging next door? The answer is probably a combination of three different factors: Whitman’s savvy use of media to get out her message, her endless pocketbook that enables her to buy that media, and Jerry Brown’s underperformance.

The campaign has been particularly proactive in making sure that Hispanic voters understand that Whitman is firmly against both the Arizona immigration law and Proposition 187.  Proposition 187 was a 1994 California ballot initiative that set out to create a state-managed citizenship screening system in order to prohibit illegal immigrants from gaining access to healthcare, public education, and other social services.  It passed in 1994 but was later thrown out by a federal judge who found the measure unconstitutional). The Whitman campaign has bought ad time in California before and during all of Mexico’s World Cup soccer games as well as other prominent games during the tournament which has drawn consistently large Hispanic audiences. But beyond soccer, Whitman spokesman Hector Barajas explained to me that Whitman is pushing to reach Hispanic voters through every available avenue. “We have advertisements running on all three major Spanish language television networks and in all of the major Spanish language print publications… we are going to be unveiling billboards throughout the state… and most importantly, Meg is going up and down the state talking to Hispanic voters about the issues that they care most about,” said Barajas. As for what issues Whitman is focusing on when talking to Hispanics? “Jobs and education” responded Barajas, citing high levels of unemployment and abnormally high dropout rates amongst Hispanic school students. Whitman is also getting a little help from Jerry Brown himself, who, as Barajas observed, “doesn’t have a Spanish language spokesman; his website is all in English (how difficult is it to put up one page in Spanish?)  Our Spanish language website mirrors our English one and they get updated daily or at the least every other day.”

Given the fact that Brown hasn’t really started spending, Whitman may find it more challenging to continue making progress with Hispanic voters.  But she has the resources to make a full court press. If the Whitman camp can keep Brown from winning Hispanics by a large margin, Meg Whitman will have a very good chance of becoming the next governor of California.

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14 Comments so far ↓

  • easton

    I have no idea why pretty much anyone would want to govern an ungovernable state like California. Brown I understand as he got nothing better to do but what is Whitman’s deal? Better a House or Senate seat for a trophy then the meatgrinder that will be governing California.

  • Rabiner

    “Given the fact that Brown hasn’t really started spending, Whitman may find it more challenging to continue making progress with Hispanic voters.”

    That kinda says it all.

  • pnumi2

    I would have said: “Whitman ‘s billion dollars paying off.”

  • jquintana

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. Being an American of Mexican descent here in California, I know many Mexican-Americans (or Latinos/Hispanics, or whatever you want to call us these days) who came here legally and have a lot of resentment for the folks who ‘cut in line’ and came to this country illegally, especially the ones who came here to commit crime and end up in prison. And many of us who are here legally are conservative and plan to vote for Meg Whitman this fall. So there’s your 39%.

    I know this doesn’t fit into your left-wing point of view, but some of us actually believe in enforcing the law, don’t believe in sanctuary cities, and although we’re divided on the Arizona law, think that the Arizona boycott is misguided. Many of us came here to be Americans, not to be part of some kind of Mexican/Latin America diaspora that hides in the shadows and doesn’t speak English, and has no better employment opportunities than cleaning toilets, washing dishes, mowing lawns and babysitting the children of Beverly Hills elites.

  • msmilack

    If she wins then we will know definitively that one’s ability has nothing to do with winning elections; they aren’t even really open if anyone can buy a position. It’s interesting the way she’s managed to make all the negative stories about her disappear (e.g. paying six figures to the employee she shoved; her son’s similar wrangle with the law for physical abuse of a girlfriend: these are not admirable people, they are bullies.) I find her exceedingly dangerous.

  • msmilack

    Another interesting point about Whitman that applies to Fiorina as well is that she was not all that good at her job; so in answer to why is she running, it’s the next high profile thing to do. Someone who did not bother voting for 28 years is not exactly civic minded.

  • FF: Meg Whitman’s Hispanic Outreach Paying Off - Hip Hop Republican

    [...] With so much national media attention focused on the new Arizona immigration law, one would think th… [...]

  • abj

    msmilack –

    How is her son’s criminal record relevant to anything? It’s no more relevant to the job she’s campaigning for than Bill Clinton’s sexcapades were to his job as a president.

    Some good people have deadbeat kids; some horrible people have model children. Your point? Now, the settlement issue, and the way she treated her employees, is fair game.

    Also, how can you possibly argue she was bad at her job? When she became CEO of eBay, the company had a $4 million budget and 30 employees. When she left, it had $8 billion in revenue and 15,000 employees.


    If I could only achieve a fraction of Meg Whitman’s failure, I’d be one happy dude.

  • Rabiner


    I don’t know what happened with her some, but if she used her influence as a wealthy CEO of EBay to get him reduced charges or for it to all just go away, shouldn’t that be an issue in the campaign? All hypothetical since I haven’t heard about that.

  • abj

    Rabiner –

    Nor do I, but let’s assume she responded the way most wealthy people in her situation (liberal or conservative) would – by hiring a top notch attorney who was able to either convince the state to drop the charges or somehow get the case dismissed.

    Sure, it’s not fair, and if it happened to you or me, we’d have ended up in jail. That’s just the way justice works for the wealthy. But, there’s nothing untoward about it, and I’m willing to wager it’s a pretty bipartisan phenomenon. So, no, I don’t think Whitman pulling out all the stops to get her son off reflects anything, unless she did something illegal.

  • msmilack

    You are right about Whitman’s son, I was off-base bringing that up; but her payoff of the employee she abused is not off-base; it says a lot about her personally and how she behaves under pressure. Remember that she is yet to freely debate or answer questions in a free forum event; everything is orchestrated as well as paid for. As for her business acumen, there is more than one way to look at her job performance — you have to look at how the company did after her departure too, because of her actions and inactions; the fact that she earned a lot of money does not make her the smart CEO she appears to be at first glance. Here is one example of that analysis which sounds convincing to me.

    “She didn’t have the business equivalent of a green thumb. The company benefited from being one of the few stars that came out of the dot-com bubble, and much of its growth was due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Whitman decided to acquire the Internet telephony startup Skype before she left — about as bad as the choice of buying PayPal was good. (Last year eBay sold Skype to an investment group for a little more than what it paid.) Far worse is that Whitman failed to anticipate shifts in how the market worked and then reacted too late. Online bidding began to fall out of favor as consumers shifted to fixed price shopping and looked at Amazon and other sites as first choices for shopping. That only aggravated the problems the company faced during the economic slowdown of 2008 and 2009.

    Within a few months of Whitman’s departure, eBay stock had collapsed to nearly $10, and had only recovered to the low teens within a year. Quarterly revenue quickly flattened and then began to drop. Yes, consumer spending tanked as the recession began to snowball, but not as quickly as eBay faltered. That speaks to Whitman’s strategic mistakes and the company’s resulting inability to weather the storm gracefully. More important, Whitman got to ride a skyrocket at eBay. California, by contrast, is more of a basket case. The economy is distraught, the state legislature is fractious and combative, and a ballot initiative process ties government’s hands and makes finding solutions virtually impossible. California badly needs a full financial and political turnaround. It may be that Whitman is capable of delivering it, but she’s yet to prove that skill anywhere.

    source: http://industry.bnet.com/technology/10008565/meg-whitman-and-carly-fiorina-why-ex-tech-ceos-could-make-dangerous-politicians/

  • Rabiner


    “Nor do I, but let’s assume she responded the way most wealthy people in her situation (liberal or conservative) would – by hiring a top notch attorney who was able to either convince the state to drop the charges or somehow get the case dismissed. ”

    That’s why I said it was hypothetical. I don’t know the specifics so I won’t comment on the situation that occurred. The only way I’d see relevance is if there was a quid pro quo in which she gave something up for preferential treatment. Not saying that happened but saying that would be the only case I’d see that as making it politically relevant.

  • abj

    msmilak –

    First of all, sorry about the snarky tone of my initial post. It definitely wasn’t intended, but is apparent upon a re-read this morning.

    I agree completely that the employee lawsuit/settlement is fair game. It speaks to her character, how she relates to subordinates, and how she conducts herself in a workplace environment. 100% relevant. And I absolutely agree that she needs to engage more with the electorate, and needs to move away from scripted settings.

    Re the article you posted – I came away from it with more questions than answers. It’s very conclusory. For example, it argues that eBay’s troubles after the recession hit “speak to Whitman’s strategic mistakes and the company’s resulting inability to weather the storm gracefully,” but doesn’t really back that up with any evidence. The conclusion may be correct, but I’d like to see a few more facts.

    Clearly, purchasing Skype was a mistake (although if the company sold it for slightly more than it initially paid for the company, it sounds like it was more of a wash than a loss). The article also curiously tries to argue that eBay’s meteoric rise after the dot-com collapse was inevitable, implying that Whitman’s leadership had little to do with it. Under her tenure, the company became a billion-dollar enterprise. She put eBay on the map. Certainly, if she made poor decisions that left the company in a structurally-weak position after her departure, her record is mixed. (Though, again, the article doesn’t offer any proof of this, other than vaguely stating that Whitman “failed to anticipate market shifts.” What market shifts? How? What could/should have been done differently?)

    In the context of electoral politics, though, it seems like “I put eBay on the map” is the kind of sound bite that’s probably a winner.

  • msmilack


    I appreciate the apology but having been guilty of a snarky tone myself at times, I understand; so not to worry.

    I wish I knew more about business to make a more informed assessment of her qualifications; I’ve read too many articles by business people in business magazines (like the one I cited) that point out that despite the success of eBay, the assessment of her managerial skills are not 100% positive to assume otherwise but I suppose what bothers me about her most and makes me feel distrustful is three things: one, that she has shown no interest in our civic life for thirty years — who doesn’t vote and then runs for office? I don’t even know anyone who is a responsible citizen who hasn’t voted for almost thirty years. So that first of all makes me quite suspicious of her motivation for seeking high office and two, her refusal to engage in debate is such a bad sign for a democracy. Three, I hate that she has spent what, almost 200 million dollars of her own money to make her face and name known, that she has changed her position on immigration and any other subject if she is advised it will lead to more votes. None of those reasons is based on facts about her business acumen; really, that is where I am coming from on an emotional level.