PPP Poll: Boxer Leads Fiorina — And Has Better Hair

The new Public Policy Polling (D) survey of the California Senate race gives Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer a lead over her Republican opponent, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. Though Boxer’s own ratings remain only modest, Fiorina’s are, nevertheless, even lower at the moment.

The worse news for Fiorina, though, is that slightly more voters prefer Boxer’s hairdo.The horserace numbers: Boxer 49%, Fiorina 40%. The survey of registered voters has a ±3.95% margin of error. In the previous poll from late May, two weeks before the Republican primary, Boxer was only edging Fiorina by 45%-42%. The TPM Poll Average gives Boxer a lead of 46.7%-42.7%.

Amusingly, the pollster also asked a question relating to Hairgate, Fiorina’s open-mic moment from early June during which she made fun of Boxer’s hair. Respondents were asked, “Do you have a higher opinion of Barbara Boxer’s hair or Carly Fiorina’s hair?” The result was Boxer 19%, Fiorina 14%, and 67% not sure. (The truly correct answer would have been for respondents to volunteer, “Who cares,” but PPP is a robopoll.)

From the pollster’s analysis:

California voters have mixed opinions about Boxer’s job performance; 46% of voters disapprove of Boxer’s work in Washington and 44% approve of the Senator, including 72% of Democrats and 40% of independents. Since launching her campaign, Boxer’s approval ratings have jumped. Boxer has been able to reinstate faith in her staunch Democratic supporters and gain the support of doubtful independents.

Fiorina isn’t seen favorably in the eyes of most Californians; 40% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican, 28% give her high marks and 32% have yet to form an opinion. Only 56% of Republicans support Fiorina and 25% are still unsure about their nominee.

Late Update: We asked PPP communications director Tom Jensen what the reasoning was behind the hair question.

“Well, because Carly Fiorina had insulted Barbara Boxer’s hair. It was asked because of that. It’s not something we would normally ask, but Carly Fiorina made Barbara Boxer’s hair into a bit of an issue and it was something that got a week’s worth of media coverage”

Why was the question phrased in the particular manner that it was, we asked? “I think the whole story was silly, so we asked a silly question. I mean we weren’t trying to turn it into a really serious thing.”

Jensen also pointed out that in January 2008 they asked South Carolina voters who was the sexiest presidential candidate, and also asked New Jersey voters last October whether then-Gov. Jon Corzine (D) was making an issue of his (eventually victorious) Republican opponent Chris Christie’s weight, and whether Christie’s weight was a legitimate issue.

“So what we have done is when we ask these appearance questions, most voters don’t have much of an opinion,” said Jensen, also adding: “Every now and then it’s interesting to just throw it in there and see what response you get.”