California Poll: Biden Leads Trump by 39 Points, Nine More than Hillary in 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Rick T Wilking/AP

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by 39 points in California, 67 percent to 28 percent, according to a Berkeley IGS (Institute of Governmental Studies) poll released on Tuesday.

Biden’s current poll margin is nine points higher than Hillary Clinton’s 30 point margin, 61 percent to 31 percent, over Trump in California in the 2016 presidential election, when she secured 8.7 million votes in the state to Trump’s 4.4 million – another sign that the most populous state in the country is becoming increasingly radicalized as a far left one-party state.

Key findings of the poll:

Biden’s huge thirty-nine percentage point advantage over Trump among Californians likely to vote in the November presidential election is very broad-based, with majorities of voters in all regions of the state and across virtually all major demographic subgroups of the likely voter population. Republican and conservative voters are the major exceptions, with 88% of Republican voters and 84% of those identifying as very conservative in politics backing the President’s re-election.

The Poll estimates that the shape of the likely electorate in California this fall will clearly favor the Democrats, with 48% of those considered likely to vote being registered Democrats and just 26% registered Republicans. The survey also finds that 13% of the likely voters include those who are newly registered to vote since the last statewide general election. The preferences of these new voters mirror those of the overall electorate, with 67% backing Biden, 25% supporting Trump and 8% undecided.

These poll results provide indications about the roll California is likely to play in the outcome of the presidential election and the battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020.

While there is no doubt that California will vote for Joe Biden in 2020, and his current 39 point margin suggests that win in the state will be by more than a 2-to-1 margin, the size of that margin may give a false indication as to the significance of Biden’s current popular vote lead over the president–which, according to the Real Clear Politics Average of Polls, now stands at 7.4 percent–when it comes to the margin that matters in the electoral college vote.

As our Constitution states, the winner of the presidential election is determined by which candidate receives the majority of electoral college votes cast, which in 2020 will mean at least 270 votes out of the 538 electoral college votes up for grabs.

When it comes to the outcome of the presidential election, it seems likely that the popular vote results are likely to be even more skewed from the electoral college results than they were in 2016.

In 2016, when she won California by 30 points – 4.3 million votes more than Donald Trump – Hillary Clinton lost the electoral college vote on election day by 306 to 232, despite winning the popular vote by two points, 48 percent to 46 percent. Had Hillary won California by 39 points in 2016, her raw vote margin over Trump would have been 1.2 million more, or 5.5 million, and she would have won the popular votes by four percentage points, 49 percent to 45 percent, but still lost the electoral college vote by the same election day margin of 306 to 232. (Note, due to seven faithless electors, the final electoral college vote was 304 for Trump and 227 for Clinton.)

Since California is one of 48 states that have a winner-take-all system when it comes to the awarding of electors in the presidential contest, the state’s 55 electoral college votes will be allocated to the winner whether that candidate wins by a margin of a single vote or a margin of 5.5 million votes.

When it comes to the presidential contest, the poll makes clear voter preferences for presidential candidates in California at present turn on two key issues: (1) Black Lives Matter and (2) attitudes towards the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is a direct relationship between voter appraisals of the President with two issues that are now dominating the news: the Black Lives Matter movement and health threat posed by the coronavirus,” the analysis accompanying the poll released stated.

With regards to Black Lives Matter:

The Poll finds that 65% of likely voters in California have a favorable opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement, while 30% view it unfavorably. Among the two-thirds majority who hold positive views of the Black Lives Matter movement nearly all (96%) disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president and 93% are backing Biden for president. By contrast, among the 30% of likely voters who hold an unfavorable opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement 85% approve of the President’s performance and 83% are backing his reelection.

Similarly, attitudes about the coronavirus pandemic were a referendum on President Trump’s leadership:

Among the two-thirds majority who view the health threat from the virus as becoming more serious 87% disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president and 84% are backing Biden in the presidential election. Voters who view the health threat as remaining the same are evenly divided in their appraisals of Trump’s performance as president and only narrowly support his re-election. By contrast, among the 12% of voters who feel the health threat posed by the virus is becoming less serious in their area, 89% approve of Trump’s overall performance in office and back his re-election 87% to 10%.

If voters in California appear on a track to reject Republican candidates on the ballot from top to bottom, it may make the GOP’s attempts to take back the majority in the House of Representatives even more difficult.

Prior to the 2018 mid-term elections, Republicans controlled the House in the 115th Congress by a 236 to 196 margin, with 14 of those Republican seats in California:

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-1)

Tom McClintock (R-CA-4)

Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA-8)

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA-10)

Rep. David Valadao (R-CA-21)

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA-22)

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23)

Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA-25)

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA-39)

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA-42)

Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA-45)

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA-48)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49)

Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA-50)

Thirty-nine of the state’s 53 seats at the beginning of the 115th Congress were held by Democrats.

In the 2018 midterms, Democrats won seven California Congressional Districts previously represented by Republicans, while Republicans failed to win a single California Congressional District previously represented by Democrats. These Democrat victories in California helped flip the House at the beginning of the 116th Congress to Democrat control by a 235 to 199 margin.

Only six of the state’s 53 seats in the House of Representatives are currently held by Republicans:

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-1)

Tom McClintock (R-CA-4)

Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA-8)

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA-22)

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23)

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA-42)

One seat formerly held by a Republican (the 50th Congressional District) is vacant, and 46 are held by Democrats.

A Republican takeover of the House of Representatives hinges on the ability of Republicans to take back many, if not all, of the eight seats lost in California to the Democrats in 2018, and perhaps taking back even more.

The across the board rejection of Republican candidates reported in the Berkeley IGS Poll, if predictive, however, does not bode well for such a Republican comeback in the House races in the Golden State.

However, those poll results are belied by the results of the May special election in Califorina’s 25th Congressional District, where Republican candidate Mike Garcia flipped the seat from Democrat control, after former Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA-25) resigned in disgrace over allegations of personal misconduct. Hill was one of the Democrat candidates who flipped a seat from Republican control in the 2018 mid-term elections.

As Breitbart News reported:

Garcia, a former military pilot, defeated his Democrat opponent Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) in a special election to fill a House seat once held by Democrat Katie Hill in Southern California.

“I do believe there has been a renaissance and an awakening from the general public, not just Republicans, but Americans in general — that we really do need to pay attention to who we’re voting for … and this district is an extremely purple district,” Garcia said in response to a question from Breitbart News Editor-at-Large Rebecca Mansour regarding what his being elected means for national elections.

Garcia also said he believes his being elected is “an opportunity of a lifetime for 2020.”

“I’m in the northern LA county with Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley, Simi Valley, and Ventura County,” Garcia explained. “So as far as registered voters it’s maybe only 25 to 30 percent Republican, but what it represents is folks understanding the message and the values and understanding that we’ve gotta hire people for these jobs that are competent, qualified, and know how to run a business, and are running for the right reasons as patriots and not any self-serving motives or political agenda. I think people are recognizing that. I think that this is truly an opportunity of a lifetime for 2020, for our party, for conservatives in general. … I think we have an opportunity to get the house back, but we’ve got to continue to work our tails off to make sure that that happens and not take it for granted.”

The Berkeley IGS Poll of 6,756  likely California voters was conducted online between July 21 and July 27 and has a 2 percent margin of error.


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