The fifth week of conducting our weekly California survey reveals voters’ enthusiasm levels, whether Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanaugh is to be believed and down ticket races begin to take shape.
The race for Governor is slipping away from Cox as Newsom expands his lead this week. Newsom has a significant lead with No Party Preference voters at 55.3% to Cox’s 40%.
- Gavin Newsom: 53.8%
- John Cox: 42.2%
- Unsure: 4%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: Newsom bounces to 54% this week with his second television spot in rotation statewide. We’ll be watching to see if these numbers hold into next week as the race is likely to begin to stabilize. Going into the early vote period with this kind of lead should give Newsom comfort.
Cox likely has hit his near ceiling of GOP voters earning 87% of that bloc. The fight to tighten this race is with NPP voters yet this week our survey revealed that Cox is losing that audience by 15 points. Cox is faced with a challenging choice of options: hug trump and grow your share of GOP support but also risk alienating NPP voters who disapprove of the President by large margins and galvanize Gavin’s Democratic support bloc even further. It seems that Cox has already made the choice to use partisan cues but not to explicitly hug Trump or his weekly moves. Cox has yet to weigh in SCOTUS confirmation fight to our knowledge. This makes sense given Judge Kavanaugh’s numbers in California are lopsided.
Team Newsom is likely watching to see if these numbers stabilize for one or two weeks in a row. If they are stabilize that may afford Newsom the ability to run a purely positive campaign but if they continue to bounce around Newsom will likely be forced to go negative if only stabilize his numbers and attempt to lock Cox closer to Trump’s approval ratings at 38%.
Lt. Gov. Race
This race has shown movement this week with Eleni showing 6 points of growth over Hernandez.
- Eleni Kounalakis: 30%
- Ed Hernandez: 24%
- Unsure: 46%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: These low information contests are interesting to watch as voters are starved for cues as to which way to break. Typically, the partisans can figure out which side to take in a General because there is only one member of party running. Given our top two primary system we have two democrats running against each other. This makes it even more complicated to break out of the pack. Eleni was first up on television and her numbers seem to be moving as a reaction to that spend. She just lent herself another million dollars as of today’s reports. Ed Hernandez took to the paid airwaves on Tuesday in an attempt to catch up and slow Eleni’s growth. Hernandez is running a single contrast piece - 50 percent negative and 50 percent positive. This is exactly the right strategy given Hernandez’s limited resources. He has to keep Eleni from growing by driving up her negatives and introduce himself to the electorate while building a positive profile to insulate himself from the inevitable negative ad Eleni will drive against Hernandez.
With a Democrat on Democrat fight the overall victor will likely be the one who spends the most to create the biggest name ID or as we like to say – whoever is the tallest Poppy in the field.
In the ad wars it appears that Eleni is not up in the LA broadcast market, likely choosing to dominate northern California markets where the population is both more liberal and more white. The battleground will likely be the Los Angeles DMA where Hernandez could run up the score both with Democrats and Latino heavy areas.
Pro-tip for Eleni’s campaign: run a hard negative spot in the LA DMA only to disqualify Hernandez in the one market he has an advantage in forcing him to spend all of his resources defending his territory in LA. If she can keep Hernandez from going up in other markets Eleni could have a free pass to build her positive brand and be the only known Democrat.
Insurance Commissioner Race
We will resume our tracking of this race next week.
Prop 6 - Gas Tax Repeal
We updated the ballot language to accurately reflect what will be printed on voter’s ballots. This week our survey revealed Prop 6 to be under water in almost every category. Most noticeable was that only 39.6% of Republicans and 19.3% of No Party Preference voters are voting Yes.
- Yes: 28.9%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: These numbers show the Yes side clearly has a problem and that likely is due to the convoluted ballot language that frames this race as a infrastructure protection measure, not a tax repeal effort. To add on top of this, the trend lines against the Yes side are likely to continue given the No side is spending heavily on paid media statewide and the Yes side is drastically underfunded. Earned media alone will likely not be enough to help this measure overcome it’s deceptive ballot language. Typically if you want to defeat a ballot measure we want to see a 2-1 No to Yes number early on. The No side is right within that ballpark. We’ll continue to watch trend lines in this race but as of today we are not optimistic that the Yes side will prevail.
This week shows Californians choice to not impeach President Trump growing as we head into November with 51% against impeachment to 38% in favor. This is the best President Trump has done in these numbers since we have begun tracking.
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: Trump is having his best week yet in terms of voters not wanting to impeach him. This number is yet another bellwether to watch as we head into November.
Tony Thurmond has erased Marshall Tuck’s lead this week leaving the race for Superintendent a toss up.
- Tony Thurmond: 28%
- Marshall Tuck: 30%
- Unsure: 41%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: While this race had an initial advantage for Tuck last week, Thurmond has erased that lead leaving himself within the margin of error. We still consider this race wide open with 41% remaining undecided.
This week we asked voters if they felt that the upcoming election in November was important. Both party’s members were enthusiastic with Republicans slightly overtaking Democrat enthusiasm by 1.5%. This is within the survey’s margin of error.
Question: Do you think November's election for Congress is very important, important, not very important, or not important at all?
Those responding Important or Very Important
- Republican: 96.1%
- Democratic: 94.6%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: These numbers are interesting and reflective of a national trend coming off of the Judge Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. With surging Republican enthusiasm levels we will continue to watch this indicator to see if Republicans can sustain this position going into November. If levels remain high this bodes well for Republicans to hold onto several close house seats in Orange County.
Do Voters Believe Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanagh?
We asked voters whether they believe Dr. Ford of Judge Kavanaugh finding that voters sided with Dr. Ford by more than a 15 point margin. Despite last week’s confirmation vote, Californians remain locked in their position as to whether or not they believe Judge Kavanaugh should be confirmed at 39.4% support to 52.6% oppose.
College professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were both in high school. Both Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Who do you think is telling the truth about what happened?
- Dr. Ford 50.1%
- Judge Kavanaugh 35.8%
- Not sure 13.9%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: This number is fairly self-explanatory however it is interesting to see that fewer people believe Judge Kavanaugh than support the President.
Methodology Statement: Between 10/5-10/7, we surveyed 1,068 modeled likely midterm voters in California via IVR, landline only. Likely voters were defined as registered voters having voted in the 2010 and 2014 midterm general elections, or in the 2016 primaries, plus the 15% additional most likely to turnout in the 2018 general based on in-house turnout score modeling. Margin of error varies by question and segment but is generally +/- 3.5% for topline results. Sample was weighted by age, gender, party, and DMA. Results were then re-balanced after processing results based on these same cohorts to account for differential response rates.