Primary Results Not Predictive About Electability in the Fall in the Biggest State
A poll released late last night by the highly respected and non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) taken of a large sample of Californians and likely voters shows Barack Obama besting John McCain in California by a 49% to 40% margin, while a race between Hillary Clinton and McCain is won more closely by Clinton 46% to 43%.
The extensive PPIC Survey, 33 pages in length, which plumbs the depths of Californians’ opinion and attitudes towards a number of state and national issues, also shows that Obama has a much higher favorable rating than McCain and Clinton and that he does significantly better amongst “independent” or “decline to state” voters. He also picks up the state’s large Latino votes in a November election by a margin of 70% to 20% over McCain.
The findings in this poll show, that for the largest state in the nation with 55 Electoral College Votes (20% of those needed to be elected President), Obama is much better positioned to win in November—and why. It calls into question one of the central arguments of a Clinton candidacy—that she can win the big states in the fall—and that there is a correlation between Democratic primary results and performance in November.
Although Clinton won the February 5 primary election in California 51.5% to 43.2%, an 8.3% margin, Obama wins the November election by narrowly winning the independent vote in California narrowly while Clinton loses that key segment of the vote 44% to 36%. Independent voters comprise about 20% of the electorate in California.
Barack Obama has the highest favorable to unfavorable rating–61% to 34%. McCain has a 49% to 45% favorable rating. Clinton’s unfavorable rating—52% is higher than her favorable rating—45%. Amongst independent voters, Obama has a higher favorability rating (57%) than McCain (47%) or Clinton (35%).
The PPIC survey has a margin of error of 3% with likely voters and asked questions of 2002 California residents, 1077 of which were identified as likely voters. It was conducted between March 11 and March 18.
Only 7% of California voters say they are undecided in this survey in either November matchup. Republicans and Democrats vote strongly along partisan lines—a bit more so with Clinton as the candidate. That is not entirely bad for the Democratic candidate since Democrats have a substantial voter registration edge in California. PPIC also shows Democrats are clearly the party California voters think will do a better job on the economy, Iraq, immigration, and health care. The War in Iraq remains unpopular with California voters as well as President George Bush who gets a 72% disapproval rating and only 24% support.
Here are the details for November.
Barack Obama’s 49% to 49% win over McCain is based on a mirror image 78% of Democrats voting for him and 12% voting for McCain and 78% of Republicans voting for McCain and 13% for Obama. Obama picks up 44% of independents to McCain’s 42%. There is a significant gender gap—Obama wins with men 47% to 44% and wallops McCain amongst women 50% to 37%. He wins the Latino vote 70% to 20%. 4% of likely voters indicate they would vote for “someone else.”
Hillary Clinton’s 46% to 43% win is based on her winning the Democratic vote 80% to 11% for McCain, while McCain wins the Republican vote 85% to 8%. McCain also wins the independent vote by 8 points in this matchup, 44% to 36%. A large segment of the independent vote—15% are undecided. Clinton loses the vote of men 49% to 37%, but wallops McCain amongst women voters 54% to 37%. Clinton picks up the Latino vote 74% to 18%. There is the identical 4% of voters who say they will vote for someone else and 7% who don’t know who they would vote for.
As to the War in Iraq, only 8% of California voters say that it is going “very well” and by a 59% to 39% margin, likely voters say it is not going well. Independents by a margin of 68% to 31% say it is not going well. Likely voters are split—49% wanting troops brought home as soon as possible and 48% want them kept in Iraq until stabilized.
On Iraq, by a 50% to 37% margin, likely voters say the Democratic Party is best able to handle the situation in Iraq, including a solid 46% to 33% of independents.
The Democrats are seen best able to handle health care by a whopping 59% to 27%–a 32 point edge which also includes an overwhelming preference by independents by 54% to 23%. Whereas 5% of Democrats feel Republicans would do a better job on health, a full 24% of Republicans think the Democrats would do better on this issue.
Democrats are also preferred on the economy50% to 37% and are seen as better on immigration by 42% of likely voters to 37% for the Republicans.
All and all, the PPIC numbers are good news for the Democrats at the height of a hard fought race for the nomination being fought and some unkind words being said by one Democratic camp versus the other. Once the nomination in the Democratic Party is decided, these numbers should improve.
More shortly on some of the California issues and ballot propositions dealt with in this poll.