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Slipping In Polls, Boxer Gets A Presidential Boost

Much remains on his agenda, but President Obama is now en route to California for a two-day political trip benefiting one of the Democratic caucus' potentially vulnerable incumbents, Barbara Boxer.

Recent polling shows Boxer's potential Republican opponents pulling closer and closer. More importantly perhaps is the fact that the three-term incumbent now consistently polls in the low-to-mid 40s, an ominous sign for anyone seeking re-election, especially a Democrat in this headwind. RCP recently shifted the California Senate race into the "Toss Up" category.

But national Democrats say they remain bullish about Boxer's chances, owing to the strength of her campaign in the early going. Boxer has $8.7 million dollars on hand as of the end of the first quarter of 2010, having brought in $2.4 million from January through March. That's far more than any of the Republicans, who must still battle each other for nearly two more months.

As for her polling weaknesses, a Democratic campaign official said simply, "It is not a good time to be apart of Washington. It is very much an anti-Washington time," pointing to the Republicans who also face challenges - many within their own party. In addition to her own aggressive campaign, Democrats point to the weakness of the GOP field as reason for their optimism.

Boxer herself jabbed at all three candidates - Carly Fiorina, Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore - in a speech this weekend at the state party convention.

"One of my opponents was Arnold Schwarzenegger's top economic advisor during the state budget crisis. Need I say more? Another had a well-executed jobs plan for India, China and Europe, outsourcing California jobs there. Another is a state legislator who did nothing to solve the state budget mess, and thinks doing nothing is a plan," she said.

But she also acknowledge the enthusiasm of Republicans and tea party activists that may be a factor this fall, telling reporters before her speech that "it is absolutely a fact that we have to match that enthusiasm"

Even Boxer's fundraising may prove insufficient this November given how expensive races are in the state. But Democrats will be boosted by spending for the entire ticket with a top-tier gubernatorial race on the ballot as well.

Obama and the White House has shown its willingness to support its incumbents early in the cycle. The president has already raised money for Sens. Arlen Specter, Michael Bennet, Harry Reid, and Chris Dodd, though the latter of course ultimately gave up his race. Today's events also benefit the DNC, which has committed to spending tens of millions on this November's elections.

Republicans are making hay of the presidential visit and the star-studded fundraisers, coming as the state and the nation still face severe economic challenges.

"Barbara Boxer and President Obama's decision to hobnob with celebrities at a lavish private fundraiser in Hollywood instead of addressing the real concerns of voters who are struggling with record unemployment simply demonstrates how out of touch they are with average Californians," said NRSC spokeswoman Amber Marchand. "This November, there is no doubt that voters will hold Barbara Boxer accountable for her out-of-touch partisan record in Washington when they cast their ballots on Election Day."

The president has no official business in California. Thus the DNC and the Boxer campaign will reimburse the government for the expenses of the Obama visit.