The Generic Ballot widens signaling a potential wave in California. The race for Governor begins to stabilize with a significant Newsom advantage, Gas Tax repeal falls behind and voters believe Warren should not call herself a Native American.
The seventh week of conducting our weekly California survey reveals voters firmly do not believe Elizabeth Warren should call herself a Native American. This issue is likely to haunt her both in a Primary and General Election.
Newsom takes a solid lead at 54% to Cox’s 41% this week as this is the fifth week in a row that Newsom remains above 50%.
- Gavin Newsom: 53.9%
- John Cox: 41.4%
- Unsure: 4.7%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: The race for Governor has shown as consistent advantage above 50% now five weeks in a row for Newsom. As Newsom’s television campaign solidifies his lead, Cox has yet to have any breakout moment in the race. He has attached himself to Prop 6 in an apparent effort to glean a lift from the measure. The trouble is Prop 6 is not a slam dunk for voters thus not given Cox and major ballot lift. Chances at victory are slipping away from Cox as the hourglass runs out of sand.
Newsom at this point in the race should be focused on doing no harm. Laying low is the proper course of action. Only do interviews with friendly outlets, plan earned media stunts that are closed to the public and let your television ads do your talking.
Lt. Gov. Race
Eleni regains the lead this week beyond the margin of error with a large undecided still remaining.
- Eleni Kounalakis: 34.05%
- Ed Hernandez: 29.12%
- Unsure: 36.8%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: Eleni has reclaimed the lead as her television campaign seems to be carrying the day. While Hernandez is on television it appears he does not have the same levels of spend as Eleni. This race is quite simple: which candidate will spend the most on tv?
Hernandez chose to go negative with his first ad in an attempt to slow Eleni’s growth knowing that she is likely to have more points on television than Hernandez. While that isn’t a bad strategy it appears it is not enough to slow her growth and spend levels. This race will come down to the home stretch with such a large undecided remaining unless Eleni opens up her pocket book in the next few days and spends at a higher level.
Insurance Commissioner Race
We will resume our testing in this race next week.
State Superintendent Race
Marshall Tuck regained the lead this week with 37% to Thurmond’s 34%. This race remains within the margin of error.
- Tony Thurmond: 34.8%
- Marshall Tuck: 37.2%
- Unsure: 28%%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: Tuck regained his lead this week as the ad wars are in full effect. Perhaps this is partially explained by the negatives that seem fairly powerful against Thurmond. Opponents use his prior track record allowing classrooms to discriminate against minorities and conditions to be so abhorrent that mushrooms were growing in the floors.
The Thurmond opponents have been wise to avoid using pictures of him in their advertising as they blast him for discriminating against minorities and say that he was reprimanded by the Obama administration. Showing a picture of Thurmond would certainly lessen the effectiveness of this attack.
Prop 6 - Gas Tax Repeal
The No side of Prop 6 regains the lead beyond the margin of error this week with 42.3% to the Yes side’s 35.9%. The growth is attributable to a shift in 7% of the undecideds breaking against the repeal efforts.
- Yes: 35.9%
- No: 42.3%
- Unsure: 20.8%
Margin of Error: +/- 3%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: This week the Yes side was dealt a significant blow as we began to see where the unsure voters are breaking. The No side changed their tv ad creative per our suggestion in last week’s memo to have slightly more effective messengers. In a low information race with a misleading ballot title it appears that the undecideds break against repeal. The answer as to WHY is hard to definitively answer as we don’t have a traditional survey with multiple follow-up questions – open ended (why are you voting, what have you heard) fav/unfav checks. All we have to go by are trend lines and movement in subgroups. Regardless, the path for Yes is getting more and more narrow by the day.
If the undecideds continue to disproportionately break in favor of No by our final track next week we’ll have a clear indication that the repeal effort is doomed.
Despite a tightening last week the generic ballot has broken decisively in favor of the Democrats this week with 49.9% of voters favoring democrats to 35.2% republicans. The undecideds remain stable within the margin of error from last week at 15%.
- Republican Candidate: 35.3%
- Democratic Candidate: 49.9%
- Unsure: 7.8%
- Would not vote: 7%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: This week’s results are significant as we see Democrats breaking free of the stable generic ballot they have enjoyed since we have begun testing seven weeks ago. Republicans lost ground this week as Democrats surge into the home stretch. This spread of 15 points between the two parties and a widening of the gap as election day approaches does signal that we should watch for a blue wave in the state of California.
Interestingly, this is counter to what we are seeing nationally as the GOP locks up control of the Senate Map and shrinks the chances of a wave in the House. We’ll watch the generic ballot going into next week to see if this is a outlier or a trend. If the gap remains constant this is likely heavy enough of partisan winds to flip several of the highly contested congressional races in places like LA and Orange County. Most experts agree, so goes Orange County, so goes the House.
Californians are evenly split on whether or not to impeach the President this week.
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: Interesting to note that even though the generic ballot shows a heavy Democratic advantage, impeachment is still not a slam dunk issue with the electorate.
Californian voters believe that Elizabeth Warren should not claim that she is Native American by a margin of 44% to 38%.
- Yes: 38%
- No: 44%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: Warren lost her purity last week in the eyes of many voters. These results are both surprising and telling as we kick off the 2020 cycle in mere days. Surprising from the stand point that given the high levels of earned media coverage of the Warren DNA test issue one might assume that the partisans would take their corners and line up accordingly. This is not in fact what happened. Many Democrats and Republicans believe Warren should not claim Native American status. Our survey reveals that this issue was not only botched last week during Warren’s attempt to put it behind her but this will be a significant challenge for her Presidential efforts both in a Democratic Primary and General Election. Prior to this botched rollout most experts believed the heritage issue would merely be a punch line for Trump in a General Election. Now we are seeing that her Democratic opponents will be able to effectively use this attack to highlight that she is untrustworthy and in it for herself. She was willing to exploit race to gain an employment advantage over some other minority who might have actually needed the slot. If this is how Californians feel in a more left leaning state imagine how more traditional primary states will feel.
Methodology Statement: Between 10/18-10/20, 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.