Obama Surges Another 13 Points in California to 56% to 33% Over McCain in PPIC Poll—Effects Seen on Downticket Races

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Independent Voters in California Break Two-to-One for Obama—and Lean Democratic Generally 43% to 27%

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has released a survey of California likely voters showing Barack Obama getting 56% of the vote and John McCain getting 33%. The underlying numbers broken down by region and other information showing an Obama surge—his lead increased by 13 points from a survey PPIC took only a month ago—have numbers that are encouraging to Democrats running for State Assembly, State Senate, and Congress and could have an impact on ballot propositions if turnout is as high as expected and confirms reports of private polls on those races. Mark Badassare, PPIC President and CEO confirmed this, saying: ““A big turnout for the top-of-the-ticket presidential race could have a significant impact on the rest of the ballot, from the propositions to legislative races.

The Obama-Biden ticket gets the support of 89% of Democrats with only 7% voting for McCain-Palin and 3% undecided. McCain gets 75% of the Republican vote with 14% of Republicans saying they are voting for Obama and 9% undecided. Obama cleans up with independents, with a 53% to 25% lead and 20% undecided.

And there’s great news in all other slicing and dicing of the voters by categories. Obama even leads in the Central Valley by 49% to 41% and cleans up in the San Francisco Bay Area 72% to 19% and in the Los Angeles Region 61% to 29%. The only area he trails in is the “Other Southern California Region” where he is behind McCain 47% to 42%.

Disaffected women from the primary? Obama has a big gender gap, with a 62% to 30% lead in the women’s vote in California. Talk of Latinos not voting for a black candidate and prior talk by Republicans of inroads into the Latino vote? Older voters? Obama wins them 48 to 40, cleans up in the 35 to 54 year old cohort 58% to 32% and has a lock on the younger voters aged 18 to 34, getting 65% to McCain’s 23%. Obama also comfortably wins all income groups—including those with household incomes of $80,000 and above by 55% to 36%.

And there is a large enthusiasm gap here as well. Enthusiasm for their choice of presidential candidates is high among Democratic likely voters, with 74 percent saying they are satisfied. Independents are divided (51% dissatisfied, 48% satisfied). Satisfaction with the candidates has declined sharply among Republicans, from 67 percent last month to 44 percent today. 53% of Republicans say they are “not satisfied” with their choice of candidates for President.

The economy is the issue California voters want to hear about the most, identified by 55% in this poll. All others, health care, immigration, and the War in Iraq only garnered a 6% response apiece.

And take a look at the answers to this question: “Regardless of your choice for president, which of these candidates would do the better job on the economy?” Obama wins it hands down 59% to 30%. Democrats go with Obama 86% to 8%, independents, 62% to 24%, and while McCain wins this question with Republicans, it is only at a tepid 64% to 22%. In other words, a full quarter of Republicans with an opinion on this question think Obama would do a better job on the economy.

Obama is favored on handling the “situation in Iraq,” and slightly on immigration, and wins the health care question with numbers virtually identical to the jobs and economy question—one again with 22% of Republicans in our state saying he would do a better job on health care.

The sample in this poll is large and the margin of error is low. PPIC interviewed 2,004 California adults which included 1564 registered voters and 1,186 likely voters. The margin of error for likely voters is 3%. Because the PPIC interviewed those with landline numbers, if anything it may be underreporting the Democratic trends here. A significant number of California voters have only cell phones and they tend to skew towards the younger voters. Based on the numbers of registered voters and likely voters in the PPIC’s samples here, it appears that these results are predicated on about a 75.8% turnout. Elections are won or lost depending on who shows up at the polls (including casting a vote by mail ballot).

The PPIC is a respected private, nonprofit organization dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. It was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett and does not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor does it endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office. Together with the California Field Poll it is considered to provide the best publicly available polling data in the state.

You can read the entire 42 page poll which includes ballot propositions and other measurements of Californians’ opinions online. We will be reporting on other aspects of this poll as well.

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