I don't know how many people were watching a Sunday afternoon Republican gubernatorial debate, but it hardly matters: All that Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman did was help the Democrats.
This race is over -- Poizner can't win. He's too far down, with too little money against a candidate who will spend every penny it takes, and has the pennies to do it. All he can do now -- and he's getting really good at it -- is create soundbites for the Jerry Brown campaign (or more likely, for the well-funded independent expenditure effort that we all know is coming).
Whitman's greatest vulnerability is her background as a rich businesswoman with ties to Goldman Sachs and a fortune built and expanded at a time when much of the state is badly hurting. Every time you say the words "Whitman" and "Goldman Sachs" in the same sentence, she loses votes.
And Poizner did that wonderfully during the debate:
“Meg Whitman has massive investments in Goldman Sachs, made huge amounts of money from the collapse of the housing market, and then, when it was time for Goldman Sachs to get bailed out by taxpayers, Meg Whitman actively campaigned for a taxpayer funded (bailout). The question is, did she let people know?”
Wow, you really don’t get this Meg…You were the CEO of eBay receiving investment banking services from Goldman Sachs, then you joined the Goldman Sachs board and their compensation committee, then Goldman Sachs started to feed you these sweetheart deals, not one, not two but 100 of them, and you made a fortune, a separate fortune from your eBay fortune and then until you got caught you didn’t think anything was wrong. But the fact is, Congress investigated what you did, they called it corrupt, the SEC investigated what you did and immediately declared what you did illegal, and the eBay shareholders investigated what you did and they sued you. They sued you for a huge conflict of interest and the only reason why you paid back any of this money is because you had to settle the lawsuit.
None of that is going to elect Poizner (who essentially ceded the Latino vote by announcing he supports the Arizona immigration law), but it's going to make great copy for the attack ads on Whitman this fall.
That's the problem with primaries that become entirely negative -- they come back to get you in the general election.