Whitman has tested the patience of conservatives by edging toward moderate positions on such divisive issues as immigration and the proposed rollback of the state's global warming law. Though she made no mention of these topics during her Friday night speech, delegates were buzzing about her shifting tones throughout the weekend.
Fiorina, by contrast, has not wavered from the strong conservative stances she took in the primary, including support for the Arizona law and for repealing the federal healthcare bill. ... On Saturday, Fiorina fired up the party faithful by criticizing Boxer's "left-wing ideology" and promising to end her rival's "28-year-long reign." Fiorina's relentless efforts to boost turnout among the most loyal Republicans — and Whitman's overtures toward moderate voters — have been reflected in recent polling. In a July survey by the Public Policy Institute of California, Fiorina showed greater strength than Whitman among Republican voters, while Whitman had more support from Democrats and Californians who described themselves as liberal.
Mark Baldassare, who heads the institute, said the different strategies employed by the campaigns illustrate the candidates' differing needs and campaign finances. Whitman is a billionaire who has spent $104 million of her own wealth on her campaign. Fiorina, though a multimillionaire, has struggled to catch up with Boxer's fundraising.
"They're in different places," he said. "Meg Whitman has the resources to run her own campaign the way she needs to, and I think Carly Fiorina is a candidate who needs to become part of the … national Republican Party's efforts to win seats in Congress this year."
More broadly, gubernatorial elections work on a different track from senatorial elections. The former often turn on non-ideological, state-specific issues while the latter inevitably involve polarizing distinctions between national Republicans and Democrats. That's why some very Democratic states (e.g., Hawaii, Rhode Island) have Republican governors, while some very Republican states (e.g., Wyoming, Kansas) have Democratic ones.
Whitman's money also has enabled her to help her fellow Republicans, as Dan Morain reports at the Sacramento Bee: