September 20, 2016 – Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s lead over businessman Donald Trump has slipped in California. While Clinton continues to hold a sizable seventeen-point statewide advantage (50% to 33%) over Trump in this year’s presidential election, that margin is down from twenty-four points in July, prior to the Democratic and Republican national conventions. These results come from a new statewide Field/IGS Poll, conducted jointly by The Field Poll and UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, and administered through YouGov’s online panel.
The proportion of likely voters holding an unfavorable view of the former First Lady has also increased ten points over the same period. More Californians now view her unfavorably (53%) than favorably (47%), a reversal from July. In addition, a very large proportion of the state’s electorate (41%) now reports having a “very unfavorable” opinion of Clinton.
By contrast, Trump is showing some improvement in his still very negative standing with California voters. Whereas fewer than one in four voters reported having a favorable opinion of Trump in each of three previous Field Polls, the current survey finds 31% of likely voters now viewing him positively. Still, nearly seven in ten (69%) hold a negative view of the GOP presidential nominee, 56% of whom view him very unfavorably.
With President Barack Obama taking an increasingly active role in support of Clinton’s candidacy, the poll also documents the very strong relationship between appraisals of Obama and whom voters are supporting as his successor. Currently, 58% of Californians approve of the job Obama is doing as President (30% strongly and 28% somewhat), while 42% disapprove (30% strongly and 12% somewhat). Of those who strongly approve of Obama’s performance, Clinton receives 94% of their preferences versus less than ½ of 1% support for Trump. Conversely, of voters who strongly disapprove of Obama, 85% are backing Trump and just 2% support Clinton.
Clinton’s lead over Trump in California declines
When likely voters in California are asked which party’s ticket they would support if the presidential election were held today, 50% choose the Democratic ticket of Clinton and Tim Kaine, while 33% favor the Republican ticket of Trump and Mike Pence. Another 6% back the Green Party ticket of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, 5% support the Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld, and 6% are undecided.
Clinton’s current seventeen-point advantage over Trump is down from a twenty-four-point lead in July, prior to the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
Huge differences in preferences across major subgroups of the likely voter population
While both Clinton and Trump have the strong backing of voters in their own respective parties, each receives an unusually small proportion of crossover votes from opposite party members. Clinton is also preferred over Trump among the growing proportion of Californians not aligned with either of the two major parties. However, her fourteen-point lead among this often Democraticleaning segment is down from twenty points in July. An increasing proportion of non-partisans (26%) are now supporting either Stein or Johnson, the Green and Libertarian Party candidates.
There are also pronounced regional differences in preferences. Coastal voters, living in counties touching the Pacific Ocean or San Francisco Bay, favor Clinton nearly two to one (55% to 29%), while voters living in the state’s interior narrowly prefer Trump over Clinton, 41% to 39%. Clinton’s strongest base of support comes from voters in Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area.
There are sizeable differences in preference by education, age and religion. Clinton is favored by a wide margin among college graduates, and especially those with a post-graduate degree. On the other hand, Trump leads among voters with no more than a high school education. Clinton is heavily favored among voters under age 40, but Trump is narrowly preferred among voters age 65 or older. Californians who identify as born-again Christians favor Trump 51% to 39%, but those who do not back Clinton two-to-one.
Clinton holds a three-to-one advantage among the state’s Latino voters, is favored six-to-one among African Americans and has a greater than two-to-one lead among Asian Americans. However, among white non-Hispanics Clinton’s lead over Trump is just six points.
Clinton’s overall standing with California voters has declined over the past two months
The survey finds that some Californians have been reappraising their views of the two presidential candidates over the past two months. More now hold an unfavorable (53%) than favorable (47%) opinion of Clinton, a reversal since July when 53% viewed her favorably and 43% unfavorably. In addition, the survey finds that 41% of voters say their opinion of Clinton is very unfavorable.
By contrast, Trump is showing some improvement in his still very negative standing with Californians. At present, 31% hold a favorable opinion of Trump, while 69% view him negatively. In each prior Field Poll completed since April, fewer than one in four Californians held a positive impression of Trump, while about three in four viewed him negatively. Still, 56% of Californians likely to vote say they have a very unfavorable opinion of Trump.
Presidential preferences closely tied to voter appraisals of Obama
As President Obama takes an increasingly visible role in support of Clinton’s candidacy, the poll documents the very strong relationship between views of the incumbent and whom voters are supporting as his successor. For example, of voters who strongly approve of the job Obama is doing, Clinton’s support stands at 94%, while less than ½ of 1% favor Trump. Conversely, among voters who strongly disapprove of Obama, 85% are backing Trump, while 2% support Clinton.