Big Gains for Romney in CA

Of course, these voters are walled off from the process, so they don't matter.

Via KCBS :  CBS 5 Poll: Romney Gains 8 Points On Faltering Obama In California

Obama had led by 22 points in the CBS 5 tracking poll released four weeks ago. Obama now leads by only 14 points, an 8-point improvement for Romney. At the same time, the poll found U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s support for her re-election bid remained largely unchanged, month-on-month, suggesting that the erosion in Democratic support is not across-the-board, but contained to Obama.

On the one hand, any gain is welcome news for a given candidate.  However, this bolsters the point I was making earlier this week in my post Love the Tracking? Hate the College.

If we elected the president via popular vote, then this move of eight points in the population-rich state of California would be potentially big news.  Indeed, such a shift helps explain some of the movement in the national polling numbers.  This fact, however, underscores how shifts in aggregate public opinion can still not lead to significant shifts in the electoral college outcomes.  Romney doesn’t need any votes in CA.  Indeed, as far our current system is concerned losing CA close is no different than losing all the votes in the state, as the EC results would be the same.

The poll currently puts the race in CA at 53%-39% Obama amongst likely voters with 4% undecided and 4% polling for “other.”

If those numbers are accurate and hold, that would give Obama a far less impressive win than his 61%-37% win over McCain in CA in 2008 (although note that Romney is still in McCain territory, numbers-wise).

BTW, it would behoove some commentators to look at some history before gloating—because Romney moving from 31% to 39% is more the numbers coming into line with the most recent election/an indication of how badly Romney was polling in CA prior to now.

Indeed, speaking of historical references, here are the CA races dating back to 1992:

2004:  Kerry 54%, Bush 45%

2000:   Gore 53.45%, Bush 41.65%

1996:   Clinton 51.10%, Dole 38.21%

1992:   Clinton 46.01%, Bush 32.61%, Perot 20.63%

(Of course, CA was consistently Republican in the 1968-1988 period).

Really, it seems reasonable to assume that as we get closer to voting, and as people engage, that the numbers in CA would further tighten and that Romney will actually will probably win in the low 40% range in the state.  Of course, to underscore my point about the electoral college, he will win exactly 0 electoral votes as a result.

Source for 1992-2000, Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Politics 101, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    Whatever! California polls consistently over sample Californians. Bogus!

    😉

  2. Geek, Esq. says:

    There are almost identical numbers of Republican voters in California as there are in Texas–both states produced an equal number of votes for McCain in 2008.

  3. Fiona says:

    I wonder if Romney wins the popular vote but manages to lose the electoral college this will give impetus to the movement to get rid of it. Two of four races where the popular vote winner loses the White House would certainly not bode well for the country.

  4. EddieInCA says:

    I’d be shocked if Romney comes anywhere close to McCain’s numbers in California.

  5. @Geek, Esq.:

    There are almost identical numbers of Republican voters in California as there are in Texas–both states produced an equal number of votes for McCain in 2008.

    And yet, in one state he won zero EVs and in the other he won them all.

    I am not sure I follow your point.

  6. Davebo says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Aren’t both states winner take all for EV’s?

  7. john personna says:

    I’d love a poll on what Romney voters think his views are.

  8. @Davebo: Yep. That’s my point, I am just not sure what Geek, Esq’s point is. Is the suggestion that it doesn’t matter that CA Republicans don’t count because TX Republicans do?

  9. PJ says:

    @Fiona:

    Two of four races where the popular vote winner loses the White House would certainly not bode well for the country.

    In 2004, if 60,000 voters in Ohio who voted for Bush (that’s 2% of his votes in the state) instead had voted for Kerry, Bush would have lost the election while winning the popular vote by 3 million votes. In 2000 Gore won the popular vote by about 550,000 votes.

  10. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    That was my point. I just neglected to make it. The California Republicans were represented by zero electoral votes whereas the Texas Republicans were represented by 34 electoral votes.

    Another dynamic worth looking at is whether the electoral college affects geographic power within political parties. Going to go out on a limb and suggest that it’s not a coincidence that Texas Republicans carry a lot more weight inside the party than do California Republicans.

  11. grumpy realist says:

    Wouldn’t a true Constitutionalist state that if this were that much of a problem, the Republicans in California would move to another state where their votes would be counted?

    When people get as upset about the number of Democratic votes in states like Texas, Alabama, Mississippi etc. not being counted, then I may start to feel a wee bit of angst. Until then, it looks like the complaints are basically due to in which state your ox is getting gored.

  12. @grumpy realist:

    When people get as upset about the number of Democratic votes in states like Texas, Alabama, Mississippi etc. not being counted, then I may start to feel a wee bit of angst. Until then, it looks like the complaints are basically due to in which state your ox is getting gored.

    Speaking for myself: I find all of those examples to be problematic.

  13. Mikey says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    Another dynamic worth looking at is whether the electoral college affects geographic power within political parties. Going to go out on a limb and suggest that it’s not a coincidence that Texas Republicans carry a lot more weight inside the party than do California Republicans.

    Does anyone have any insight into whether California Republicans tend more toward the moderate than other Republicans? Because I think your suggestion is entirely accurate, and it would seem if California Republicans are in fact more “liberal” than those of Texas (and I think that’s probably the case), their relative lack of influence within the GOP artificially skews (ha!) the GOP to the right.

  14. john personna says:

    @Mikey:

    I don’t think the nature of California Republicans can be generalized. There are distinct regional tribes. The ancient gag is that I live “behind the orange curtain.” I certainly meet people as much in the far-right value network as you’ll find anywhere.

    I of course am a moderate ex-Republican.

  15. bk says:

    California has pretty much solidly voted Democratic for important offices in the past 30 years. Just ask former Democratic Governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Obviously, it depends upon the candidate.

  16. swbarnes2 says:

    @Mikey:

    Does anyone have any insight into whether California Republicans tend more toward the moderate than other Republicans?

    Not really. California has a lot of rural areas, and those are red, red red. Dem’s just outnumber Republicans by too much across the whole state, because of LA and the Bay area. (San Diego’s a wash, because of all the military; it’s purple, but getting bluer)

    The Institute for Creation Research is in the San Diego area, for example

  17. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Mikey:

    California Republicans–especially those elected state wide–tend to be more heterodox than do Texas Republicans.

    Just like a North Dakota Democrat will be more heterodox than one from California.

  18. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @grumpy realist: Well, within Texas, we feel pretty disheartened most of the time. The congressional redistricting went so far as to cut the City of Austin up into five Congressional slices. In no Congressional district that crosses city lines, do Austinites make up a majority. There are 820,000 of us, but we’re a city without a Congressional District. I’m sure it surprises no one to then find out that we’re one of the Democratic strongholds of Texas.

  19. Al says:

    @john personna:

    I disagree. California Republicans seem to fall into two camps. The socially conservative types who live by you and tend to vote in the primaries more and the “small l” libertarian types who would never vote for the candidates that the first group nominated. People in the first group are idiots because they never seem to grasp that as a group they are much, much smaller than the second. People in the second group are idiots because not nearly enough of them participate in the primaries.

  20. J-Dub says:

    I don’t agree with the winner-take-all aspect of the Electoral College. I think the loser should be rewarded for their efforts with a trophy and maybe a hug.

  21. Mikey says:

    @J-Dub: We could make it really interesting and return to the custom of making the loser the VP.

  22. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Mikey:

    Having a Republican VP under Obama would totally not further incentivize the “second amendment remedies” crowd from getting trigger happy.

  23. Mikey says:

    @Geek, Esq.: Well, just imagine the fun we could have with President Romney and VP Obama.

    Seriously, though…if we had that system, it would be entirely possible for an incumbent president to lose and become VP. I wonder if any president so “demoted” would simply resign the position.

  24. wr says:

    @Geek, Esq.: “California Republicans–especially those elected state wide–tend to be more heterodox than do Texas Republicans.”

    Actually, California Republicans elected statewide tend to be… mythical.

    There is not a single Republican in statewide office.

    Can’t say we’re any the worse off for it.

  25. Yes everyone. It’s important not to “gloat.”

  26. superdestroyer says:

    California is a good example of what a one party state will look like in the future. High taxes, bad economy, state spends more than all of the tax money it collects, high unemployment, bad public schools, and a state being buried by demographics.

    More whites lived in California in 1990 than live today. No conservative party is going to survive in such a situation. California has shown the Democratic Party that there is no point in appealing to middle class whites when you can just overwhelm conservative voters with open borders, unlimited immigration, and high real estate prices to encourage whites to leave.

  27. KariQ says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    California Republicans–especially those elected state wide–tend to be more heterodox than do Texas Republicans.

    Since, as has been said, there are no statewide Republicans who have won elections recently, this must be based on “ancient history” going back a few years when California was still a swing state.

    California Republicans are, frankly, quite delusional and seem to be getting more so rather than less. I know some who are active in the party, and they talk as if they were running for office in Mississippi or Georgia rather than a state with a high minority population and a tendency to take environmental issues very seriously.

    I keep watching them, hoping that the consistent losses will make them come to their senses and start embracing issues that Californians care about, but so far no luck.

    @superdestroyer:

    California is a good example of what a one party state will look like in the future…

    All that might be true if we actually had a one party state. We don’t. Our state constitution gives an excessive amount of power to the minority party to stall and prevent legislation involving taxes ans spending – pretty much everything government does. Add in term limits so that everyone in office is new on the job and doesn’t have the time to build working relationships with the opposition, and you have a formula for no rule, rather than one party rule.

    I’m actually hopeful that if not this year then in 2014, we will actually have one party rule long enough to make some much needed changes. It can only be an improvement.

  28. superdestroyer says:

    @KariQ:

    AS I have pointed out on Outsidethebeltway before the requirement for a 2/3 majority to pass a budget has been eliminated in California http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/California_Proposition_25,_Majority_Vote_for_Legislature_to_Pass_the_Budget_(2010)

    However, the requirement for a 2/3 majority to raise taxes still exist but the Democrats anticipate picking up two more seats in the State Senate in order to get around the requirement.

    The future of California is more spending, higher taxes, more illegal aliens, and fewer middle class people working in the private sector. That is a perfect storm for having a one party state.

  29. KariQ says:

    Yes, I am aware of that change. It has helped, but it’s not enough. We really need to do away with budgeting by ballot box and allow a simple majority to make changes to the taxes. We need serious reforms. Property taxes in particular need to be changes, since prop. 13 has completely distorted the tax base and greatly reduced the ability of counties and cities to create their own budgets.

    You’re right that Democrats might get the votes they need in the state senate this cycle, though the lower house is still in question. As I said, given the rules the state operates under, we may as well try one party rule. Two party rule hasn’t done us any good.

  30. J-Dub says:

    @Mikey: Then we would need a third position, Official Food Taster.