California: The Macro Microcosm

We finally have our first poll of 2016! It comes from California, our most populous state and the world’s eighth largest economy. This behemoth will award 14 percent of delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination. The poll from this massive state does much to shed light on the latest developments of the Republican Primary, including the points that have been made by the universally adored Presidential Politics for America.

The poll was done by the respected Field Research Corporation from December 16 to January 3. The headline horse race figures are as follows:

  1. Cruz–25
  2. Trump–22
  3. Rubio–13
  4. Carson–9
  5. Paul–6
  6. Bush–5
  7. Christie & Fiorina–3
  8. Kasich–1
  9. Santorum, Huckabee, Gilmore–Didn’t register

Joining Iowa, we now have a second state where Cruz leads Trump. My suspicion, however, is that Trump is doing worse than we think in many more states, but no one is polling there. Specifically, it’s blue states in which I suspect he’s doing weaker than in the South and Midwest, where his dominant numbers buoy his national support.

A closer look at the numbersconfirms that the party is still resistant to Trump and waiting for that alternative candidate to compete with him when the field winnows. Consider, for example, that the poll found Trump’s “second choice” figure at only 11 percent. Here are those results:

  1. Cruz–22
  2. Rubio–14
  3. Trump–11
  4. Christie–8
  5. Fiorina–8
  6. Carson–7
  7. Bush–5
  8. Paul–4
  9. Kasich–2

In other words, only about one in ten Californians, if they weren’t already Trump supporters, would turn to him if their candidate were bounced. That’s a surprisingly low figure for someone who’s dominating national polls. It’s only half of Cruz’s 22 percent, which led the category, and even less than Rubio’s 14 percent. Christie and Fiorina were the second choice of 8 percent of those polls, a number competitive with Trump despite them being so far back of him as first options.

Meanwhile, his favorability numbers struggle compared to his rivals, including among Republicans and the general electorate. Here are the numbers among likely voters from his own party:


First of all — poor Jeb! Secondly, Cruz and and Rubio have tremendous favorability ratios: +49  and +35 respectively. Carson and Christie also have a healthy, favorable balance. Trump, however, is at only +6, and that’s in his own party, less than four weeks before voting begins. Can he really be considered the favorite? Moreover, those who have no opinion of him is a minuscule four percent of California Republicans, smaller than the double digit figures of his top rivals, who therefore have more room to grow.

Among all registered voters, numbers of course crater for these Republican candidates in a mostly Democratic state, but Trump’s dip a lot more:


Trump’s unfavorable rating among Democrats and Independents are 20 points worse than Cruz, who has the next worst numbers of the three top contenders. (Meanwhile, Rubio still looks like the best general election option of the three, though Independents basically like Cruz just as much.)

Finally, another metric that shows Republican resistance to Trump was revealed in a question that asked how voters how they would react if “Candidate X” were the nominee:


Trump’s “enthusiastic” number of 24 is just two points higher than the 22 he polled as first choice. That means that of the 78 percent of Republicans with whom he wasn’t the first choice, only 2 percent of them would still be enthusiastic about the Republican nominee if it were Trump.  Only 55 percent would even be “satisfied” or better, a number which is statistically tied with Christie and well behind Cruz’s 74 and Rubio’s 67. Meanwhile, Trump’s “Upset” column pops out. A plurality of California Republicans — over a quarter of them! — would be highly opposed to his candidacy. That’s even worse than Bush.

Ultimately, populous and diverse California is a microcosm of the country outside of Trump’s southern stronghold. As shown through his weak “Second Option,” favorability, general election, and voter reaction numbers, the GOP is still less receptive to his candidacy than any other contender this side of Jeb Bush. The state also reaffirms Cruz’s sustained surge, Christie’s slow climb, Carson’s colossal collapse, and Bush’s epic failure of a campaign.

California. The macro microcosm.


3 thoughts on “California: The Macro Microcosm”

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