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S4 Ep22: California Schemin’ (with Jon Favreau)

March 2, 2024
Notes
Transcript
California’s U.S. Senate race is a battle royal for small-dollar Democratic donors, between Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter…but they’re both boosting certain Republican candidates to gain an advantage in this race. California also has a governor who’s scheming to run for president in 2028. Pod Save America‘s Jon Favreau joins Sarah to discuss California’s present Democratic stars and their futures on the national stage.

show notes:
Pod Save America
Offline with Jon Favreau
The Wilderness

This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:06

    Hello, everyone, and welcome to focus group podcast, I’m Sarah Longwell, publisher of the Bulwark, and the race we’re covering this week is a stimulus program for Democratic Ron DeSantis, but Cal California senate race. I say this because this is a race between two candidates who have impeccable resistance credentials, and that means they’re currently printing money from small dollar donors around the country. And California has a weird primary system where the top two candidates in the primary regardless of party will advance to the general election. The race has two main players. You’ve got Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, who has been tough on Trump from day one, from the Russia investigation to the first impeachment inquiry January sixth committee, then you have Democratic congresswoman Katie Porter, whose whiteboard is feared by CEOs everywhere.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:55

    One of them is gonna be a US senator and may get a look for president in twenty twenty eight, but rest assured California also has a governor who’s itching to run for president, so you’re gonna hear a lot about these characters in the years ahead. Now cards on the table, I’m not especially enamored with either Schiff or Porter or Gavin Newsom for that matter. But to break down these characters and how California politics were reverberate around the country. I am turning to one of my favorite California lives, John Fabrow, co host of Crooked Media’s Pod Save America, and host of offline with John Favreau and fellow focus group aficionado. John, thanks so much for being here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:34

    I love this show. I’m a focus groupie.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:37

    We’ll send you a mug. You’ll get
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:39

    a mug.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:40

    I listen to this every Saturday, so I’m excited. I can’t believe I’m doing California California politics. I, like, barely pay attention.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:47

    Oh, no. Just kidding. I hope that’s not true because I’m really counting on you to carry this show, man, because the amount of research I had to do to be like, what is happening in California?
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:57

    Research too.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:59

    Oh, no. Okay. So Like I said at the top, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff both have these outsized national brands, and that means they, like, have so much money, flush with cash, And, in fact, they have raised more money so far than any of the endangered democratic incumbents, like Sherrod Brown, Ohio, John in Montana, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, and Jackie Rosen in Nevada.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:23

    It’s a pricey state to run for office in.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:26

    Do we think this is a wise use of small dollar donors right now?
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:31

    No. I don’t. I don’t think it’s a wise use of small dollar donations. And, I should say that I I know both Katie Porter and Adam Schiff personally and love them both. But, I hope that’s not where I would be donating.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:45

    I mean, we we have Vote Save America here at Crooked Media. That’s not where we tell people to donate their money either. We tell them to donate their money to one of these very competitive races in a swing state.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:55

    Yeah. Guys, John Tester.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:56

    Yeah. I had a Sherrod Brown fundraiser at my house. I tried to raise money for Sherrod instead of these, California characters.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:03

    That’s good. Okay. So I’m gonna jump right into our focus group of California Democrats. Did you watch this whole thing?
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:10

    Mhmm. I sure did.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:11

    Okay. Man, love these California dems. So these are Democrats that they wanna vote in the primary. And Adam Schiff right now is sitting in the mid to high twenties and Katie Porter and Republican former Dodgers First Basement Steve Garvey are duking it out for second place right now. Gotta tell you.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:28

    This is, like, the Venn diagram of all the things I know so little about. It’s, like, former baseball players in California Democratic bio six. I am so lost right now.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:37

    And I
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:38

    was like, somebody explained to me who this republican is.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:41

    No one knows here. Because if you knew Steve Garvey, you’re already, like, from a different era of politics. Like, I vaguely remember the name because he was around in baseball, but, like, he’s not well known here in the state.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:54

    We’re gonna barely talk about him in the show, but I guess I am curious. It sounded like people have been trying to get this guy to run forever. Like, Republicans really think he has a shot. Are they smoking something or what’s the deal?
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:06

    I mean, definitely Republicans in the, you know, California is a one party state error and we’re just, like, dying for notable Republicans that may have name recognition in the state because there are so few who also aren’t crazy. So I think that’s why there’s been that push for so long.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:24

    Okay. Are you surprised he’s, like, pulling even with Katie Porter?
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:28

    I’m not surprised. I was talking to some California political folks on the Dem side, and it’s just like voter registration numbers. Right? Like any Republican running is gonna pull, especially in a field where Schiff and Porter and Barbara Lee, are splitting up the demo Right. That any Republican no matter how crazy or how normal is gonna end up around where, Garvey’s pulling.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:55

    Now, which is, like, what, twenty two percent, twenty five percent?
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:58

    That’s depressing that a more normal Republican just can’t get anywhere. Because then they could just gonna keep running Larry Elder weirdos.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:06

    Well, that this is the problem with and this happens in red states too, but in really Blue States, the Republican Party has become in the Trump era even more extreme. And so the candidates that Republicans run have become more stream. Like, I’m from Massachusetts, but, like, the Massachusetts Republican Party, which once gave us, like, Mitt Romney as governor is now just, like, filled with election denying, lunatics.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:30

    The Republican party you say has gotten more extreme.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:35

    Especially in the states where it’s not competitive.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:37

    Yes. Yes. You are a hundred percent right about that. Well, so it was interesting in this group. It was very clear why Adam Schiff is currently the front runner in this race listening to these voters.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:47

    Let’s listen.
  • Speaker 4
    0:05:49

    I like that he at least appears to have the persona of courage when you’re against, obviously, the Republican party, and we know how their persona comes off. We can’t keep having, like, you know, wallflowers, seeing him in action on his panels gives me confidence that even under, you know, the immense spotlight, he’s able to continue to hold of his own hoping that, of course, he’s done his due diligence because we all know we’re being looked at under the biggest microscope for any flaws, any misses.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:29

    I think he’s got a stern face, you know, and he can stand with his back against the wall if need be. That’s who I’m on in my corner. Somebody who’s not afraid, but they’re not a bully either. And they’re about the work. Right?
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:40

    They’re about getting it done. Like, you dare go to trials. You’re just about the work getting it done. So, yeah, I would mean definitely leaning more towards status shift. I would be equally pleased with either candidate at this point.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:51

    I think I’m leaning slightly towards shift just because of, you know, his record in Congress, but I’d be perfectly happy with Katie Pours Canada too.
  • Speaker 5
    0:06:58

    I am leaning more towards Adam Schiff. I do like his presence. I do like that a lot of his ads haven’t been attacking other people for their personal traits.
  • Speaker 6
    0:07:10

    I feel like he maybe was a little too confident in the way he talked about Trump sometimes in terms of having the goods and, you know, being sure that he would be convicted and and that sort of thing. But, you know, it was maybe a little bit of hubris that came back to bite the dems in the butt. But, I mean, I think he’s done generally a good job. And from what I heard that shift has been kind of I don’t know if this is true, but, like, more kind of pushing Garvey so that he’s his opponent in the election rather than Katie Porter. I feel like that’s playing with Fire when I hear that kind of strategy happened.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:51

    So this was interesting to me when I heard this. The idea of the Schiff boosting Garvey, but then it sounds like Katie Porter, there’s also a Republican she’s boosting, and they’re both doing this thing that has become a little bit of a tactic. It seems like among Democrats lately of boosting, Republicans and Well, it’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:10

    a little different than the sort of national democratic tactic of, like, boosting trumpy, mega candidate so that you get them in the general and they’re easier to it’s more because of this top two primary system. And so Shift doesn’t wanna face Katie Porter in a general election. Because I actually think if it’s Schiff and Porter in the general, not just because she’s another Democrat, but I actually think she could win that race. Just because of the way that California Democratic Party is and Democratic voters. And I guess Newsom did this in eighteen as well.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:41

    He sort of, like, started running ads about the Republican to try to knock out Vira Gosa so that it wasn’t, Newsom and Vira Gosa in the final two, Antonio Vira Gosa. It was the mayor of LA. And running against Newsom. And Newsom did that with some success. So I think it’s like a tried and true tactic here in California.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:00

    What I found interesting about the groups is that these are clearly Democrats who are engaged enough that they knew this was a strategy. And so they’ve not only seen the ads, but they’ve seen or heard the commentary about how this is a tactic and some of them clearly seem to not like it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:19

    I gotta tell you, this group was super engaged.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:22

    Super engaged.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:23

    And, you know, for me, whether this I was coming to this race, like, a little cold. I was like, they know so much that I don’t know. Usually, I’m sort of like I feel like I’ve got the edge a little bit on a lot of these, as a close watcher of politics. And voters not paying a ton of attention. And it wasn’t even like they were so inundated with ads.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:41

    They just they were following it. They knew a lot about these politicians. Were you surprised that they liked shifts so much?
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:47

    A little bit, but it sort of answered some questions I had about this race because I had wondered why Porter has had trouble catching Shift. And the more I thought about it, like, you said that they both have impeccable resistance credentials But Adam Schiff is like the physical manifestation of the anti trump resistance. And he’s like an MSNBC darling. Right? Like, the wine moms, I’ll love Adam Schiff.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:14

    This group of California Democrats, like, those people are watching MSNBC. Like, every night, they would vote for Tim Miller. If they could. Right? Like Chiff
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:25

    needs to get some pearl.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:26

    Yeah. Right. Yeah. Exactly. But shift strategy of just being on TV constantly over the last several years in the Trump era, like, not only the impeachment stuff, but he’s just he’s out there all the time.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:38

    It’s clearly paid off. I also think he just has so much more money. I think it’s, like, the money, his relationships with other Democratic politicians in the state that go, like, they’re very deep. Nancy Pelosi loves Adam Schiff. So the whole Pelosi machine, everyone like that, they’re behind him.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:52

    So he’s got higher name ID. And I also think that the issue environment, at least in terms of what the media is covering, favor shift more than Porter because we’re in the Trump era still. And so he’s seen as anti trump So that helps him. And I also think that since Gaza has been in the news, Gaza has sort of helped Barbara with some progressives who’d like really care about that. Neither of those issue environments help Katie Porter as much because her thing is I can take it to CEOs, an economic populist, you know, I can have the whiteboard and the hearings.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:27

    If you did polls of voters and focus groups, I think they would really care about that stuff. But I think in terms of what the media is covering and what breaks through, it’s all, especially out here for California Democrats. It’s all, like, anti trump stuff. And I think he’s more associated with that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:40

    You know, that makes sense because I would say that if I you’d ask me for my gut impressions of this race, I would first admit how little I know about it, but then I would say I would sort of go with Katie order.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:50

    I’m like Me too.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:50

    It makes sense. The Barbara siphoning off some of the more progressive voters from Katie, but I guess I was just sort of like an older white man seems like it seems not their time, you know, time’s up. And I also think of Katie Porter as an MSNBC darling. Like, I know who she is, and I picture her with a whiteboard in her hand. You know, those clips also went viral, not that I don’t, you know, watch MSBC from time to time, but I wouldn’t say I’m I’m sitting there watching the cable news so much.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:16

    So I guess I didn’t realize maybe how ubiquitous his presence is.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:20

    No. He’s more from the, like, the Chuck Schumer school of get out in front of a camera every possible second you can. One more thing on Porter, I did a focus group for the wilderness last year. Of young voters in Irvine, which is her district, her house district that she had represented since twenty eighteen now. And all these voters were, like, They’re young people, they’re in her district.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:42

    They had voted before in a general election, and they were, like, the perfect fit for Katie Porter. They were, like, railing against corporations. It was right after dobbs, I wanted to talk about reproductive freedom on and on and then I was like, so do you know who your representative is? And will you be voting in the midterms? And not one person knew Katie Porter, and it was her district.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:02

    Oh my god.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:03

    So I do think that, like, as much as I think she’s a rising star in the Democratic Party, She hasn’t been around as long enough as a shift, and she just doesn’t have the national exposure. He does.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:13

    I had something very similar happen in Marjorie Taylor Greens District where we were doing her district And, somebody was god. Now I’m gonna Bulwark on her name. The Senate candidate who was also a blonde woman from two cycles ago in Georgia. Kelly Luffler. Thank you.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:27

    They’re like, the person’s like, yeah. She’s a little crazy beatles. She owned the basketball team. Like, you know, and the district vaguely knows their national grand, but, like, may not realize they actually are their representative. It’s so true.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:40

    Exactly.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:41

    Okay. So like we were saying, Katie Porter, she’s trailing Steve Garvey for the second place spot in the general election in most polls, but she’s like within striking distance. She’s close. So I wanna listen to the case she’s making against the strategy of the shifts employing of trying to elevate Garvey.
  • Speaker 7
    0:13:57

    If it’s a shift garvey match up. The race is basically over on March fifth, and I think that is really bad for California, and it’s really bad for little d democracy. We do when we have competitive elections. And it’s really disappointing that representative ship is spending, millions and millions of dollars trying to end this election before November. The TV as we’ve seen, the only communications from Steve Guardian to voters are coming from Democrat shift.
  • Speaker 7
    0:14:28

    And so I think that should show voters what they need to know about what the strategy really is here. It’s about taking, the best qualified woman who’s competitive in the race who can win in November off the ballot. And I don’t think that’s what someone who’s a self styled defender of democracy, like representative Schiff should be doing at this point.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:49

    Oh, hitting him on democracy, I know. She’s anti Devron.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:52

    For the jugular.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:53

    Yeah. She’s going going at him hard here. And it sounds like it’s breaking through a little bit. I mean, one of the voters brought it up and said he didn’t like it. Can this work against him?
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:02

    I can’t tell if it’s too much of a bank shot. When I heard that clip, my first thought was if I was hitting him on that, which I would be if I were her. And by the way, if I was him, I’d probably be employing the strategy he is as well. Right? And then if I was sure I would hit him on it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:17

    But I would say, like, we should have two Democrats. You know, it’s California. We should have two Democrats. We shouldn’t even risk the idea that there could be a Republican. And why wouldn’t Adam Schiff wanna have two Democrats also?
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:30

    Right? Like, democracy is just sort of a little esoteric with voters.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:34

    Yeah. Sure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:34

    The real reason that her, I think, her argument is compelling, and and she didn’t mention this probably because she can’t, but there’s so many competitive house races in California. Where Republicans could win. Democrats could flip the house just here in California alone. And if there’s a Democrat and a Republican in the fall, might get a bunch of Republicans going out to vote because they think that they can vote for the Republican, the Republican might win. But if there’s two Democrats, you might actually have lower turnout among Republicans and some of these house races, and it might help those house Democrats win those races.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:07

    Now that’s way too complicated, case to make from Katie Porter publicly, but that would be the argument for Democrats for having two Democrats as opposed to, having Garvey and Schiff.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:18

    I don’t know. You just made that very succinctly, and that is incredibly persuasive. But even just the point about, like, it should be to Democrats, you know, this is our state. Seems like a good shot for her to take. I mean, as two people who do focus groups, it means that we know that democracy is just not the thing that voters are getting lit up about.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:38

    Although, sometimes you hear it from Democrats.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:39

    And
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:39

    this is the group that I would have thought you would hear it most from.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:44

    Yeah. We didn’t ask them slowly, but it’s interesting how it just doesn’t come up. It never comes up, you know, oh, I’m really afraid for democracy. Alright. So I wanna get to how these focus groups talk about Porter because, you know, people like her, but she’s clearly playing second fiddle to chef in the group.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:02

    Let’s listen.
  • Speaker 6
    0:17:04

    Katie Porter was my representative, and I’ve, you know, really thought she was great. So she would be my first choice, but I also, you know, have kind of said that she’s not gonna be a representative anymore because then leaves a vacancy.
  • Speaker 8
    0:17:19

    I’ve heard nothing about Katie Porter on media broadcast and Santa Cruz area. I read two newspapers every day. The San Jose Mercury News and and the Santa Cruz Sentinel. And they’ve mentioned almost nothing, about Katie Porter.
  • Speaker 5
    0:17:35

    And I also like Adam Schiff because he’s not afraid to take things on. And he’s in the forefront. He’s outspoken And it’s kind of a shame that we can’t have both. I do like that Katie Porter’s gone after, like, big pharma. She’s kinda for the consumers.
  • Speaker 5
    0:17:53

    So I’ll kinda just have to see how it goes from here to see which one ultimately that I would pick. I love Katie Porter. Because I love the way she would take on Steven Newshen and seeing footage of her, and she’s quirky. She’s brilliant. She’s a lawyer, but she’s She likes tricking people into thinking she’s stupid and then she comes out and just rip some into shreds.
  • Speaker 5
    0:18:16

    And I just love watching her.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:18

    Like, I don’t know enough about the Katie Pur. All I know is this. She’s she’s the queen of the whiteboard. Right? It’s not the ads.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:23

    Every time I see the ad, it’s like there’s a whiteboard. She’s talking about her on whiteboard. So I’m like, I’m like, that’s not enough for me, you know. This is not LA City Council. This is, like, something big.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:31

    Right? So I don’t know enough about her.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:34

    I’m surprised so many people say I don’t know enough about her because I will tell you when I do democratic groups that are just across the country and I ask them Alright. Well, who would you like to see run for president? She’s always in the mix. Like, some progressive always brings up Katie Porter. I guess she doesn’t have as much money is shift, but, like, she’s still got quite a bit of money.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:54

    So why isn’t her stuff breaking through?
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:56

    It’s a great question. I mean, the Northern California voters, it makes sense that they wouldn’t hear about her as much. Just hearing them talk about, like, what’s breaking through. It also makes me think, like, We’re having some some real, newspaper media issues out here in California. Like, LA Times just laid off, like, a ton of reporters This is, like, the biggest state in the country, but we don’t have, like, a ton of coverage of politics here because we’re having shrinking local news issues, and I really think that’s affecting what voters are paying attention to.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:28

    I also think that so much of what voters are consuming here is the national news and not necessarily local California news. And I just think she hasn’t been around long enough to really break through. Like, you heard the people who are where her constituents in the focus group or or from Southern California, they’re much more familiar with her. But aside from the, like, I see her at the whiteboard and, you know, it’s not city council. There weren’t a lot of negative comments about her.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:55

    It was more just like, oh, I don’t know as much about her, and I know Adam Schiff. It could just come down to that, which is tough for her, but it’s just a matter of not breaking through.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:04

    Can I get a prediction out of you? Like, is she gonna overtake? Garvey? What do you think?
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:11

    I think it’s gonna be tough. I mean, often the Republicans who poll in California the polls overestimate their support.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:20

    Mhmm. So
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:21

    it is possible that some of these polls are overestimating Republican support. And then at the end of the day, she pulls it out, but I think it’s going to be extremely close. I mean, I can’t imagine a ton of Republicans coming out for a March fifth primary in California. So that makes me think that maybe she could do it. I might bet that she pulls it out, but I’m like fifty five forty five on it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:44

    Yeah. You’re not going all in. You’re not betting at all on black. What tell me about California politics a little bit. Everything I know about California politics, like, seems to be the recalls.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:53

    That’s been the big story, California. But has California politics changed a lot in the last ten years? Like, what is the tenor and tone of politics is there now.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:05

    Ten years is how long I’ve been here. I’ve moved here in twenty fourteen. And my impression of it as someone who lived on the East Coast. I’ve lived in DC, and Massachusetts, and Chicago. And I have never lived in a place where The Democratic field of politicians is always so crowded and competitive, and they’ve all been around forever.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:29

    You know, there’s, like, ten Democrats running to replace Adam Schiff in his seat. There’s a bunch running for Katie Border’s seat. It reminds me of, like, New York Democratic Paul. Or it’s just because it’s the only game in town. It’s just a bunch of Democrats.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:43

    Like, I think relationships are more important, like, how long you’ve been around is more important. I think it’s more difficult for an outsider like Katie Porter to break through in a big way. Than people who’ve just sort of, like, come up through the system and with mayor and then spent their time in in the assembly and then went to Congress. Right? Like, it’s a very, like, okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:05

    Now it’s your turn in the state in the Democratic Party. You know, we see that with Pelosi, but it’s, like, throughout the whole state.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:11

    You guys need to ship, like, a hundred thousand of those folks over to Montana or something.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:16

    And I think the reason that persists though is because it’s such a big state and it costs so much money. Right? And so there’s such a high bar to entry. There’s a guy who’s running for Schiff’s seat, and he was on the school board race here in LA. And I had, like, met him a couple years ago at a fundraiser.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:32

    And like, oh, I’m raising money for the race. I’m like, how much of the race? He’s like, oh, it’s gonna cost more than most Senate races.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:39

    I’m bored.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:40

    And there’s a school board race in LA. The amount of money is insane.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:44

    And it’s because there’s so much money out there. Right? So everybody can raise so much. It’s wild. Okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:52

    So there’s one more member of Congress in this race. It’s not expected to advance to the general election. We talked about her before. Congresswoman Barber Lee, She staked out the left flank in this race, including, like you said, sporting the ceasefire in Gaza and a fifty dollar minimum wage. That is she does not have any businesses in her corner.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:11

    I suspect. But let’s listen to how the group thought about her.
  • Speaker 6
    0:23:15

    I don’t even know if Lee is actually relevant, but I probably should do my due diligence and do a little bit more research on her as well.
  • Speaker 8
    0:23:23

    I worked at a hospital in in Oakland for a few years, and, I met Barbara a couple of times. Right now, I’m leaning towards Adam Schiff. I would really like to be able to support Barb Relief that I the last picture that I saw of her, she’s, getting up there with Biden and Trump. She’s in her mid to late seventies now. And I think she’s also she would have trouble, I think, getting elected because she’s from Oakland.
  • Speaker 8
    0:23:53

    And there’s a lot of prejudice against Oakland. It has a reputation of being a very poor minority city a minority occupied city with a lot of violence. I hate to say it, but, the prejudice against, people of color is basically, exposed in cities like Oakland. Oakland doesn’t get nearly the support that it needs for, public health for public safety. The warriors left, the raters have left, the a’s are leaving, What can I say?
  • Speaker 8
    0:24:31

    I don’t think that she would have a very easy campaign because of all these negatives about Oakland.
  • Speaker 5
    0:24:37

    And I really like Barbara Lee too, but I think she might be a little too mild for the, you know, the aggression of the Republicans. And so that’s why I think end of shift and Katie Porter. I just love them both.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:51

    She is she is black, which is why he was talking about that verbally. But it seemed to me the age thing was the thing that was jumping out. And because, I mean, you’ve got Feinstein, obviously, you’ve got Biden, like, age is top of mind for people. But would she ever drop out and endorse Katie Porter? It occurs to me even as I’m thinking about this, the one thing I know about Barbara is that she was like the only vote again Afghanistan.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:15

    Yeah. That’s how she became, like, super well known nationally. I mean, she’s a legend in Oakland, but, like, nationally, it was her vote against Afghanistan that really sort of put her on the map.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:25

    And so what is her profile there in the state? Because everybody was, like, very polite and nice about her. I like her, but no takers on voting for her.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:32

    Well, we were just talking about how Katie Porter hasn’t really broken through. I think that Barbara is, like, very well known in Oakland. But outside of Oakland, not even, like, Northern California. She just is not well known. And I think that, like, super political nerds, like us, who remember her vote against Afghanistan.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:50

    So, like, we know her, but I saw this in early polls of this race. They’re just her name ID was just so low.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:56

    It’s loud.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:56

    Yeah. For someone who’s been in Congress as long as she has. So I think if you have low name ID and, like, the guys that she’s older, she’s the oldest candidate, And she’s so far left. I mean, I’m a good lip, but fifty dollar minimum wage. I didn’t even know that was a thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:11

    I read I read about that a couple weeks ago, and I was like, she’s proposing a what?
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:15

    It’s a real vanguard. Real vanguard. How’s the real vanguard? Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:20

    But I don’t think she dropped out. I interviewed her a couple months ago. She came down here, and she was like, there should be a black woman in the Senate. There should be a black woman running for the Senate seat. And I’m the person to do that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:32

    Like, she just feels very passionately about there should be a black woman in the senate because obviously, Kamala Harris was in the Senate and then, went to become VP. So I don’t get the sense that she would drop. It look if Schiff Porter advanced to the runoff, I could see her backing Porter for sure. Maybe. Although, I don’t know if she’s been in Congress for a while, so I’m sure she has a good relationship with Schiff too.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:54

    Interesting. Okay. Well, Now that we’ve done half an hour on the internessin, California politics, and I don’t even know how I feel about this. I wanna talk about one of the early front runners for the twenty twenty eight Democratic nomination, and you are definitely to be happier that he is a front runner than I am. The slickest governor in all fifty states Gavin Newsom.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:17

    This is so painful for me, but I want you to listen to how this group talked about Newsom because they love it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:22

    I know.
  • Speaker 5
    0:27:24

    I like the way he knows how to work the other side. He has that movie scarf way about him, and it lets other people put their guard down. And he actually got along with Trump. And because of that, we were able to get a lot of benefits He didn’t make enemies with Trump, which I think is good.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:40

    And I believe that he’s doing a job to the best of his ability period. You know, they were trying to take him out of my office and the right. The recall. Thank you. And he beat that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:48

    So he came back with even more fire. Like, immediately after, and he just kept working. He just skipped right over it. He didn’t have a garage. He just kept it pushing.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:56

    So I appreciate that.
  • Speaker 8
    0:27:57

    Talking about the debate with DeSantis. One of the things that he’s not afraid to do is to go places where normally someone of his political mind would be uncomfortable and to confront the things that people are throwing at him to intend to make him uncomfortable. You know, taking on the immigration crisis at the border in, Texas and and in California. And dealing with the issue of abortion, the issue of, states refusing money for child food programs, things like this. He’s just not afraid to state his case to anyone who’s willing to listen.
  • Speaker 8
    0:28:40

    Even those who aren’t willing to listen.
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:42

    I think he’s sincere. I think I know. I think that ultimately he cares. That’s why he’s good looking. So that’s that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:49

    That’s that’s sorry. I just had to say it. You know what I mean? He’s a good looking man. And he just seems like he’s he seems humble, and I think that that’s what Trice mentioned on my way over.
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:59

    Trust him, you know, and ultimately that’s it. He’s very trustworthy. Of course, you know, if things happen, the whole Chinese laundry restaurant thing, you know, he was out of pocket. Of course, you know what I mean? And then he He explained it a little bit, but the fact that he was in a position to have to explain himself is not a good thing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:14

    Okay. The French laundry. Not not the Chinese. The Chinese. But I love that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:20

    But but here’s the thing. I could not believe I have so many grudges. I hold against Gavin Newsom, personally. He doesn’t care. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:27

    I haven’t talked about it, but I have this the French laundry thing, was terrible. Let me tell you what. I spent so much time talking to Michigan voters because I spent a lot more time in the swing states, and the anger Even though she won by ten points, the things that people held onto in Michigan around Gretchen Whitmer, going to visit her father during COVID when the state was on lockdown, like, people held on hard to that stuff. Now they hated Tuder Dixon, but, like, she was kinda, like, Yeah. He did that thing, and Nat got some bad things, but then whatever.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:58

    He’s great. He’s handsome. I love him. I wanna have a long conversation about Gavin some.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:02

    Me too. I’m I’m ready. I have so many thoughts about Gavinism. Alright.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:05

    So why don’t you just hit me up top with, like, why do they love him so much? Because in a in a Republican group, he would be read as a regular politician, which Republican voters hate, but they love him. So tell me why.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:18

    So first of all, I think a lot of Democrats probably who aren’t familiar with him would view him like that sort of too slick I will tell my personal Gavin Newsom, experiences. So when my wife and I moved here in twenty fourteen, it was like a couple months in, to living here, we, were invited to some fundraiser in the neighborhood and Newsom was there. He’s lieutenant governor at the time. And I was like, rolling my eyes ahead of time. I’m like, this guy is, like, so slick.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:47

    I don’t know why people are talking about him, you know, And I’ve, like, heard the backstory. And I was, like, I don’t know. We sit in this fundraiser and he goes on and on for a while. And he’s so Smart. He is such a policy geek.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:03

    And we we left the fundraiser, and I turned to Emily, and I was like, that is The smartest, dumb looking guy. I have ever encountered in politics. And, like, his looks are actually doing him a disservice. Because they are masking how smart he is. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:21

    So then there’s that, then I’ve gotten to meet him and interview him. And sort of like off camera, he’s also Very funny. He gets it. He like wants to gossip about politics. He’s a political animal, as well as a policy nerd.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:35

    And he’s also very, like, self aware. And he’s charming in a way that I did not expect And I was very suspicious when I first encountered him. I was like, I don’t know if this is gonna Bulwark. And now I I get it. I also think that he could win an open primary in the Democratic Party for press Like, I think he is a very strong candidate in the primary because he has everything that the sort of Resistance era Democratic Party wants.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:08

    Right? What do they want? You hear it in the focus groups. They wanna fighter. They think that Democrats are always getting beaten by Republicans because we’re too nice.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:15

    You know, Michelle Obama said when when they go low, we go high, and that was bad. And every, like, you hear all these, like, tough fighting Democrats always complain about that. But not Gavin Newsom. He’s gonna go stick it right to the Republicans. A big part of the party wants that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:31

    Now if he was the Democratic nominee, I have the same concerns. I’m sure you do, but, like because
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:37

    you know what, swing voters from Pennsylvania want? They want the governor of California. Like, Do you know the campaigns? Republicans would destroy this guy for his electric car loving. I think he would get destroyed.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:53

    But Muts is actually not even my biggest beef with him.
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:56

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:56

    My biggest beef is actually doesn’t even have to do with him exactly. It’s that the Democratic party And I understand I’m coming at this from, like, a very sad, disaffected Republican place. It’s given birth to all of these stars over the last sort of three cycles. Right? And so many of them are now quite appealing to me.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:15

    Right? You got Josh Shapiro and Gretchen Whitmer and Rafael warnock, and, you know, Abigail Spannberger and Alyssa Slakin and Gina Ramundo and Pete Buttigieg. I mean, there’s just a lot of good pragmatic politicians who are from swing states. Gretchen Wilber won by ten points in Michigan. Like, Josh Pier won by fourteen points in Pennsylvania.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:35

    No democrat in California, you know, the steel, sharpened steel. But when you live in California and you’re just running against other dams, like any set really had to run against a Republican is when they’re doing the recall races and somebody’s running against him.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:50

    Right.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:50

    And those are not serious Republicans. And so just to hand it over after all the work that got done to sort of, to me, kind of, get the Democratic party to a place where it did have a lot of pragmatic stars that could really win in these swing states and then handed over to Gavin Newsom, who, by the way, used to be married to Kimberly Gilfoil, This is also one of the things I really like against him. There is a picture of him. Any the only picture that anyone shows if you haven’t used some don’t care how handsome he is now. He is lying on a bare skin
  • Speaker 7
    0:34:20

    rug in
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:22

    in, like, a post coital spooning situation, which Kimberly Gilfoyle.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:27

    Look, he’s crossing the aisle. He’s he’s making friends with Republicans. That’s that’s what
  • Speaker 7
    0:34:31

    you want. The best was not yet to come.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:33

    So I think that’s my concern because you are right, though, when I ask people who they like nationally, And I actually I give Gavin Newsom credit for this. I was just in San Francisco, and I had said to people, look, I don’t like Gavin Newsom. I said to crowd of people at a live show. I don’t like it. Everyone booed me.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:52

    And then I was like, but the one thing I’ll say is in the total absence of surrogates right now for Joe Biden is my biggest frustration. And Gavin Newsom is the one guy out there throwing punches and seems to be sort of cheerfully Go into bat for Biden. Obviously, it’s because he wants his job, but, like, he’s doing the work and he’s doing it with the policy jobs. Like, he goes out there and he can talk about what buying is done on oil and gas, and this or that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:18

    So It’s effective. And what he’s the most effective surrogate and what you’d expect from a liberal California governor who goes out and is a surrogate and goes on Fox News is not actually what you get from Gavin Newsom, which is I think also why people like so much because they’re like, oh, this guy’s supposed to be a liberal governor in California, but he’s he’s kicking ass with Sean Hannity. There are plenty of Democrats who are like to do. He shouldn’t go on Fox. We shouldn’t do all these things.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:42

    Well, I’m like, well, I think because because you and I like the voters. We talked to the voters, and
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:46

    I’m just like, I think
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:47

    it’s the best way to reach people. We have to reach those audiences. And so I I think his strategy, his media strategy is excellent. Like, I am so impressed with him. I like a lot of things, but the real challenge the Democratic party back to your point about, like, we’ve built this bench of stars.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:02

    It’s like, the brand you have to build to be acceptable to swing voters broadly is antithetical to the brand that gets attention in politics today. And so If you’re Josh Shapiro, how do you get attention? How did how did Josh Shapiro get known? Well, by being just like a common sense, soft spoken governor from Pennsylvania who’s done really well. Like, he’s not gonna get that much attention.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:28

    And when he goes and gives a speech, I think he’s a good orator, but he’s not the most charismatic politician, right, even though I think I’d feel really good about him as a nominee. And so I think that there’s this tension where the media stars who break through are creating brands that are not necessarily, gonna attract swing voters. And then all of these people who are gonna attract swing voters are not quite as exciting for a democratic base that really wants someone to go out there and fight.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:57

    I just think that the Gavin Newsom Tucker Carlson twenty twenty eight election cycle is gonna be really brutal for me. That’s how I feel about it. Look, I wanna emphasize this point though about the being a fighter. I don’t know how to square this circle But I wanna ask you about why so your point about Josh Bureau, right now, my biggest frustration with the Biden sort of campaign is that they don’t have this big bench of surrogate out there. Like, they should be flooding the zone with these assets.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:26

    They should be all over TV. They should be out there with Biden. I’m not sure what is going on. Like, I can’t tell if it’s them. Like, they don’t wanna get his thirty eight percent approval ratings stinkle over them, or if it’s Biden’s not reaching out and asking them to I mean, I saw Whitmer this weekend.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:43

    She came out and she talked about Michigan, and she was very good. She was saying, you know, a vote Not for Biden is a vote for Trump. And let’s just remember that. And I understand the pain of everybody in my community. And I thought, why aren’t you out there all the time?
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:57

    So Gavin Newson’s ambition, like, he sees it as a benefit to himself to go do that. Do these other folks not see it as a benefit to go out there and be advocating on behalf of Biden and raising their profiles because they do have to do some of that. You’re totally right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:11

    Yeah. I don’t know the answer. I suspect few things are at play. One, maybe they think it’s still early. And that by the time we get to the spring and summer, they’re gonna be all over the place.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:24

    I hope. Because I agree with you. I do think we need a lot more circuits out there. And then I think it’s a question of, like, when you do these interviews, do you really break through? Like, I think that we’re running out of good opportunities for some of these targets to go on and really drive the message unless you’re, like, Newsome and you’re gonna go on Fox.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:43

    Right? Like, I don’t know that someone going on and sitting down with, you know, Margaret Brennan on a Sunday morning. Which is what a lot of them do, or Kristen Welker, like, is really gonna break through in a big way, or is, like, the best way to have Biden surrogates out there. And so then you’re like, well, what are the ways to break through and reach audiences that aren’t necessarily consuming all the political news that we all consume. And I don’t even know if, like, their staff or the Biden campaign staff, like, knows what to do with them all or where to put them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:13

    Yeah. It’s almost like you’re saying though that, good serious governance is at direct odds with being able to break through and build the kind of brand you need in order to find a constituency and win elections.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:28

    I mean, it was rare that Obama was able to do this in o eight. He was inspiring and exciting to people, but he also, especially looking back now, sort of had the political instincts to know that he was supposed to be broadly appealing to the general electorate, probably because he was Bulwark guy with the name Barack Hussein Obama. So that was weighing on his mind. Right. But I think that now sometimes you get a lot of politicians like doing an Obama impression, which doesn’t work as well today because politics has certainly advanced since then.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:03

    I think there is a good bench. It it’s my hope that some of these folks because they have good governing instincts and because they know what to do to maintain their brand with swing voters, we’ll find a way to be more inspiring, get more attention, a little more exciting. Like, I think that stuff you can always dial up and figure out how to do. I think it’s harder if you’re a Gavin Newsom to be like, oh, I’m gonna change my brand so that I’m more appealing to swing voters.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:30

    So on this point about being a fighter, When Newsom challenged DeSantis to the debate, or they challenged each other. I don’t know who did the challenging. I don’t know who threw down the gauntlet. But, like, taking an opportunity like that, that was, like, smart twenty twenty eight play. But I will tell you, I remember the reactions from that debate.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:49

    It was like a war shot test for your, like, previously held positions because the Democrats thought Gavin crushed it and the Republicans thought to see it, this crushed it. I thought, boy, I don’t like either of these guys very much, and I think they’re both overrated. But did you think he had a good debate that night, like, really like, oh, I’m impressed at how he handled DeSantis.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:09

    I’m an interesting case because I watched the first thirty minutes and then I had to go somewhere. And after the first thirty minutes, I was like, yeah, I think Gavin’s doing really well. And I think he’s, like, owning this debate. And then as I was, like, on the way to wherever I was going. I was getting texts from friends, and they were like, oh, now it’s just a mess.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:27

    And now they’re both just yelling at each other, and it’s like no one’s got control. And it’s just bad for everyone. So I don’t think I saw the part of the debate that kind of devolved. But from what I saw at the beginning, I thought he got the better of DeSantis, but I also think DeSantis is just terrible just from a performance perspective, like, one of the worst candidates I’ve ever seen. So, I don’t think it was a heavy lift to, outperform DeSantis, but I think he did at least at the beginning.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:53

    John Savro, thank you so much for being on the Focus Secret Podcast. It was so good to talk to you. I love talking to somebody else who does focus groups, and I listen to all your stuff as well.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:03

    I’m the biggest Bulwark fan.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:05

    Well, I should’ve plugged the wilderness. Why didn’t I plug the wilderness? We should’ve
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:08

    Listen to old seasons of the wilderness. The new one’s gonna be out in May. So gonna be and you’ll and, hopefully, you’ll be back on as well.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:14

    I think I’m on it. I think I’ve, like, already recorded it. So you’re the best. I love your stuff. I I love all these crossover doing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:20

    Who knew?
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:21

    Who knew. We’d find ourselves here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:22

    Well, I tell you, our our List Jane episode got more downloads than than most of our episodes.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:28

    I think that’s the work effect. Right? We’re happy our people are also coming over there. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:33

    For sure. For sure.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:33

    Alright, man. Thank you. And thanks to all the rest of you for listening to another episode of the Focus Group podcast we will see you next week.
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