California voting officially kicked off on October 8 as County election officials began mailing vote-by-mail ballots with just 29 days left before the November 6 election.
The five California Voters’ Choice Act counties of Sacramento, San Mateo, Nevada, Madera and Napa will be the first to open officially at 8 a.m. on October 9 to offer in-person voting and collection of mailed ballots.
Of about 25.1 million eligible California adults in 2018, 19 million were registered to vote as of May. At about 75.7 percent of eligible adults, that was up slightly from 73.3 percent in 2014, the last non-presidential election year, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).
About 13 million registered voters have chosen to receive mail ballots. Although the ballots will not be counted until Election Day, the demographics of the returned ballots will provide an excellent window into voter motivations in key elections.
The share of registered Democrats, at 44.4 percent in 2018, was up slightly from the 43.4 percent in 2014. The Republican share of registered voters declined significantly, from 28.4 percent in 2014 to 25.1 percent in 2018. The percentage of independent voters registering as “decline to state” or “no party preference” jumped from 21.2 percent in 2014 to 25.5 percent 2018.
Despite Republican registration falling, Republican candidate for governor John Cox’s poll numbers have risen since the June primary from a crushing 29-point deficit to a 12-point deficit in mid-September and a five-point deficit today.
The latest Thomas Partners Strategy poll, released October 3, found that Cox support hit a high of 45 percent and Newsom was unchanged at 50 percent. Cox has solidified Republican support at almost 90 percent, and the fight for the “No-Party-Preference” voters is statistically a dead heat at 44.5 percent for Cox and 45.8 percent for Newsom.
House races may also be shifting away from a Democrat “blue wave,” as the Republican base has become more energized due to the controversy over the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.