The Boxer-Fiorina race is the single most important and symbolic event of the 2010 campaign. Republicans don’t require a Fiorina victory to gain 10 seats and take control of the Senate. But Boxer has a special status. She’s the epitome of 21st-century liberalism run amok. The aftershock of her ouster would be shattering. “It would have a tectonic effect as the Democrats sift through the rubble of the 2010 campaign,” says Ken Khachigian, the Republican consultant and speechwriter.
There’s a way a conservative can win in California. Khachigian calls it the “fishhook” strategy. You win Sacramento, the Central Valley, San Diego, and circle back to capture the collar counties around Los Angeles. If the strategy succeeds, you win by a small margin. There’s no room for mistakes.
Carly Fiorina is a disciplined candidate. But her willingness to explain her position, sometimes at length, on issues other than Boxer, jobs, and spending may cause her trouble. Her target audience is independent, swing voters—roughly a quarter of the electorate—and she’s at risk of alienating independent women on abortion.
But if any conservative can win California, it’s Fiorina. And Boxer’s penchant, when under pressure, for saying just about anything may help. “I love the military,” Boxer said in the TV debate. That’s a whopper, both preposterous and laughable. A few more of those may put Fiorina over the top.