This has been in the news a day or two, now: Matt Lauer's call for both Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown to stop airing their negative ads.
Not surprisingly, Brown offered to stop airing his if she'd stop airing hers. Not surprisingly, Whitman refused.
Why "not surprisingly"? My political science (as opposed to political) take on this exchange is that both made the call that gives them the best chance of winning. Brown's ahead, so if he can freeze the debate now, he wins by 8-12 points. Whitman needs to increase Brown's negatives to have a chance to win, so she needs to keep going negative.
Alternatively, one could argue that if she hasn't made the case after $140+ million dollars, a few more million won't make any difference. Stop throwing good money after bad. Pack it in.
If it were just her own campaign at stake, she might very well do that (although I suspect that when people get involved in a campaign like this, it's really hard to admit you've lost--you keep hoping for a game changer).
But it's not just her campaign. She needs to keep campaigning to try to boost Republican turnout. Although her own campaign is lost, Fiorina is still within striking distance of Boxer. There are also several initiatives on the ballot that she may want to help by boosting Republican turnout. That's why she's staying in the campaign, spending big, and staying negative.
Oddly enough, another Times story claims Whitman is going to a softer campaign commercial strategy (while keeping up her attacks on the campaign trail).
Yes and no. She's added a bio piece to the rotation. But the negatives are still playing, too.
My opinion? It's too late for the warm and fuzzies. She should have opened with those, to establish herself back in January (or before). She needed to build herself up before she took down Poizner and then opened up negative on Brown the day after the primary. That's why her negatives are so high now. People see her as having been relentlessly negative for over a year. They learned over and over about what she didn't like about her opponents, but were never given a compelling reason to like her.
The nanny thing's timing didn't help, either. It provided an avenue for Brown to remind people about her other examples of less than truthiness: the non-voting fiasco, the length of time she lived in California, and so forth.
It's really kind of astonishing that, with all of her advisors working on her NY Yankee-like payroll, it never occurred to them that they should have put this story out earlier. She could have afforded to take a ten-point hit against Poizner. Against Brown, however, the ten-point hit meant, "Game over."