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Democrats Losing Their Hold on California and California Losing Its Hold on America

Michael Barone on

Last week's Super Tuesday results ensured the renominations of former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, barring some unanticipated adverse health events. So, who's going to win in November?

Polls give us clues. Trump continues to have the small but persistent lead in public polls he has maintained since November 2023 -- in contrast to the 2016 and 2020 cycles, in which he often trailed in national and target state polls.

But polls are only one indicator. Actual votes are another. And we've had one contest this year that provides important clues to the November vote: the California primary.

Primary voters in California, like those in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas, have voted not just for president but also for members of Congress and (in North Carolina) governor and statewide officials. Those contests may draw turnout from voters with little motivation to participate in seemingly already decided presidential primaries.

And California, unlike those states but like Louisiana and Washington, has, except at the presidential level, all-party primaries, in which the top two candidates, regardless of party, advance to the general election.

The results of all-party primaries in many but not all cases turn out to be good forecasts of the general election. For example, Washington state's 1994 results presaged the defeat of then-House Speaker Tom Foley and the first Republican majority in the U.S. House in 40 years.

 

It's true that this year's California primary came eight months before the November election, and in eight months, events can surprise and opinions can change. But today's polls are subject to the same caveat.

The big news from California is that, with 85% of the votes counted (high-tech California counts slowly), Democratic support is sagging a bit. With no viable opposition in the state to Biden or Trump, Democrats cast 59% of presidential votes and Republicans 39%. That's down from the state's 63%-34% margin for Biden over Trump in 2020.

Similarly, in the all-party primary for the U.S. Senate, Democrats got 59% of the votes and Republicans 39%. That's down from Sen. Alex Padilla's (D-Calif.) 61%-39% margin in 2022 and then-Sen. Dianne Feinstein's 63%-37% in the last Democratic-Republican runoff in 2012. It's nearly the same as Gov. Gavin Newsom's 59%-41% reelection in 2022 but weaker than his 62%-38% victory in 2018.

Those numbers don't mean difficulty for Biden in carrying California's 52 electoral votes or for Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Congress's chief propagator of the Russia collusion hoax, in replacing Feinstein in the Senate.

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Copyright 2024 U.S. News and World Report. Distibuted by Creators Syndicate Inc.

 

 

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