Thursday polls: Are Democrats at risk in California?

Slow polling day today, as the bulk of the week's Pennsylvania polls were released earlier this week. That left the Thursday stage to Zogby, who released a poll from the Keystone state:

  • Zogby shows a toss-up, with Clinton edging out Obama 45% to 44%. This makes Zogby only the second pollster with PPP to find this tight a race.
  • In an interesting internal number, Obama is slightly ahead in union households. If he can hold on to that on April 22nd, it would be a great talking point for him to diffuse worries that he would be weak among blue collar voters.
We will naturally have to wait a few days for polls to start registering whatever impact yesterday's debate might have had on voters; in fact, Clinton's negative advertisement hitting Obama for his San Fransisco remarks only started airing at the beginning of this week, so the environment of the Pennsylvania campaign changed dramatically this week. That, too, can probably not yet be picked up by polls. It is of course unclear who all of this might help, but we will have to keep a close eye on poll trendlines in the next 5 days.

Meanwhile, two general election polls are of interest:

  • In California, Rasmussen finds McCain competitive. He trails Obama 50% to 43% and Clinton 47% to 42%. Last month, McCain trailed Obama by 15% and Clinton by 7%.
  • Obama at least benefits from a strong favorability rating (58%), whereas McCain at 48% and Clinton at 47% are weaker in this respect.
  • In Colorado, a poll conducted by Republican polling firm TargetPoint Consulting shows McCain trouncing both Democrats, 51% to 39% against Obama and 52% to 40% against Clinton. I do not particularly trust this poll, and given its partisan nature take the results with caution (which also contained Senate numbers showing both candidates tied).
Colorado is an important state for Obama, one of the red states that is not traditionally at the forefront of Democratic preoccupations that the Illinois Senator thinks he can make competitive this year; the previous poll from the state (released by Rasmussen) shows him tied with McCain.

The worry for Democrats, of course, should come from California: They cannot afford to have this state even be competitive. Every day the Democratic nominee spends in California, every dollar that is spent on its expensive airwaves is that much less to go on the offensive in Ohio, Colorado and Virginia. A Democrat cannot enter the White House without California's 55 electoral votes, so McCain's staying in mid-single digits against both Democrats has to be a worrisome signs that the Arizona Senator has appeal on the coasts and appeal among Democratic-leaning independents who keep Democrats comfortably ahead in states like California.

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  • The California numbers are worrisome, because if McCain wins the state that he will almost certainly win the White House, and like you said, just being competive and forcing Dems to spend in this state which could be used for tossup states would be very dangerous for the Democrats. However, I want first see if these numbers are replicated among several polls, not just Rammussen (like Obama being competive in GE in North Carolina, more polls are needed to see if this could really happen). Second, McCain is the presumptive nominee and no longer has any intraparty conflict while the Democrats are locked in nasty primary. With polls like these showing McCain clearly benefiting from the competive Democratic primary, I believe that after June 3rd (probably in mid June to help stave off McCain's Strength) unless Obama competely implodes (he has only weakened himself, not implodes) the most of the undecided superdelegats will overwhelming go for Obama, to the point that he passes the majority mark and is declared the presumptive democratic nominee. If they can, the Superdelegats will go with numbers which would not change the outcome of the nominantion if Florida and Michigan is included. It is unwise for Democrats to force Clinton out now, even if only gets a double digit lead and only does as expected in the remaining states, but any worriers of angering Clinton and her backers will dissipate after June 3rd becasue at that time preparing for the general election will become a priority.

    So in sum, I think that if Obama is declared the presumptive nominee by July 1st and there is arduosu efforts to get Hillary supporters used to Obama as the dem nominee, Obama's numbers in California should go back into comfortabler low double digits at least.

    And for the Clinton supporters who will undoublty say that Obama will be fresh meat in the GE, I will as politely as I can say that any backlash among Clinton Supporters Obama has right now, it would be nothing compared to the backlash among Obama supporters if Hillary wins because Superdelegates supercet the pledged delegate pluraity.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 17 April, 2008 13:38  

  • The California result is consistent with other polls (Field, PPIC).

    Part of the GOP weakness in California was Bush himself. And McCain toured the state last month,
    which gave him a boost.

    The other question is how much money will McCain spend in the state?

    I really think there has to be a nominee by mid-June, otherwise McCain is good as elected.

    By Anonymous mikeel, At 17 April, 2008 13:58  

  • who needs california? didn't those day-dreaming advisors for camp obama talk about winning Mississippi and Alabama and Georgia purely based on Afr-American turnout?

    The entire Deep South combined has enough electoral votes to counter any loss of CA. No biggie =)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 17 April, 2008 15:12  

  • Obama has imploded. He just doesn't know it yet. The silly attacks on Hillary in the face of his miserable performance will make his electability shrink to nothing. That debate has more than enough tv ad material to destroy ten candidates. If you're really worried about this primary having a detrimental effect (I don't think it does), then Barack should quit. He has absolutely no chance of winning without both Hillary and McCain and whoever might take McCain's place imploding as well. He might as well have pulled out a life-sized poster of UBL and called him his old buddy. Coburn was pretty close.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 17 April, 2008 15:38  

  • mikeel
    I don't think that Bush's weakness was purely based on himself, althrough it definitely contributed. 1988 was the last time a Republican won California, and after the 1992 victory by Bill Clinton, it has consistently been safe democratic territory. I havent' seen any other polls besides Rammussen that have Calfornia in single digits.. maybe I will google the firms you mentioned and look for myself. Netherless, I think that McCain's strength in California is almost purely because of the bitter Democratic contest...it is no doubt that some other light blue states, such as Oregan and New Jersey would be strong for McCain if Dem's already had a nominee, I think it would be the start of a GOP landslide if California is competive in fall polling if the Dem nominee is determined by July 1st. This is my opinion, but I feel that McCain himself has not been that appealing to Californias but his maverick profile makes it easier for dems and independents to turn to him when they see the nastyness of the dem primary race.

    Anoynmous 15:12, I assume that you are saying your commet in jest, but I would say that Obama has no chance of winning Deep South states despite there signifcant black populations because whites are still strong majority in these states and they will go 90% or so for McCain in the fall, just like 90% or more of AAs will go for Obama. I do think that an increased black turnout could help in down ballot races for democrats in these deep south states such as in the MS special election Senate contest.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 17 April, 2008 15:44  

  • anon 15:38
    If Clinton was doing better than Obama against McCain in GE polls then maybe the start of an implosion would be at hand. However, polls generally show her doing worse and she is helping McCain and hurting the Democratic party more with her critism more than she is helping herself. I will tell you right now that unless an incident happens which causes great doubts among Obama supporters like myself (my faith in Obama has definitly weakened because of his gaffes but has not disspated completely)a Clinton nomination that involese an Superdelegate overturn would be a pyhrric victory, clinton would definitly lose to McCain

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 17 April, 2008 15:50  

  • I really think there has to be a nominee by mid-June, otherwise McCain is good as elected.

    While I disagree with the conclusion, I see no need to worry about the premise. After the voting is over, what reason would superdelegates have not to commit? They'll be under a lot of pressure to settle this thing. So I think it will be settled by mid-June at the latest.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 17 April, 2008 16:09  

  • Like Dean said, McCain has had no opponent bashing him like Barack has done to Hillary. When Barack drops out and Hillary turns to McCain, his numbers will crumble. Btw, a Nixon Republican just endorsed Obama. Nixon lost a race by having an Obama-like debate performance. I think the intent was an "undorsement".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 17 April, 2008 17:09  

  • I've been thinking Obama pulled a Nixon all day. Those were the early days of TV debates.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 17 April, 2008 17:17  

  • Barack is not dropping out. He his ahead in delegates and popular votes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 17 April, 2008 18:36  

  • I support Hillary and I hope he doesn't drop out. Nixon went on to win a later race for president and despite his wife's juvenile assertion that this is the only try, Barack has a big following. A few years of better planning and dis-association from lightning rods could rehabilitate him and make him much more electable. I doubt by next week he'll be ahead in popular votes. After he grudgingly accepts Fla. and loses Pa., Ind., and PR, he'll likely be trailing in delegates as well. PR is winner take all isn't it?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 17 April, 2008 19:33  

  • He is not going to be trailing in delegates. Florida and Michigan will not be counted as they voted in February since Clinton herself said they didnt count. PR is not winner take all.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 17 April, 2008 20:22  

  • Barack Obama looks like he's having a nervous breakdown. Do we really want a person who can't be a leader at all time???

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 17 April, 2008 20:24  

  • I'm starting to see more comments referencing violence on other blogs. This video about George's death is a real nasty sore loser. Better be careful Obamans. It's not good to be sore losers but it's really bad to be sore winners. Barack hasn't lost his frontrunner status yet. He already has an enormous uphill climb in the GE.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 17 April, 2008 20:38  

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