There's no doubt Barbara Boxer's in some serious trouble for reelection. But looking inside the numbers on the California Senate race there are some indications that Boxer should survive:
-Our late May poll of the race, which like this week's Field Poll found a 3 point Boxer advantage, found Carly Fiorina leading Boxer 88-4 with folks who voted for John McCain in 2008. That's the largest lead among McCain voters we've found for any Senate or Gubernatorial candidate in the country over the last 4 months and it's an indication that Fiorina really has no room for improvement with her base. She's already got it completely locked up and she's still trailing, albeit by a small amount.
That means Fiorina's going to have to win over a bunch of Obama voters to knock off Boxer but so far she's shown very little appeal to them. On that poll only 4% of Obama voters had a favorable opinion of her to 42% who saw her unfavorably. That's quite a contrast from, for instance, Scott Brown who was seen favorably by 28% of Obama voters right before to his upset win in Massachusetts to 61% who saw him unfavorably.
-Yes, Barbara Boxer is not very personally popular. We found her disapproval at 46% to only 37% approval. But it's important to note that just because voters don't approve of you doesn't mean they won't vote for you. Boxer is currently getting 20% of the vote from people who don't approve of her. 92% of those folks voted for Barack Obama and 3% voted for John McCain and literally 0% of the 43 people in that category who we polled in California in late May had a positive opinion of Fiorina. There are a fair number of folks who don't like Boxer but aren't open to voting for a Republican either.
Last year Jon Corzine's final percentage of the vote was 11 points higher than his approval rating in our polling and a similar dynamic may put Boxer over the top this time.
I don't think Boxer will win by much- certainly don't expect to see her with a double digit margin- but I just don't think Fiorina has that much room to grow and because of that I expect she'll end up hanging on.