California poll reveals how third-party candidates could throw 2024 presidential race to Trump

David Lauter, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

Especially concerning to Democratic strategists, the percentage holding a favorable view of Biden has dropped 30 points over the past three years among voters younger than 30 and 20 points among Latino voters, only 43% of whom now see him favorably.

"The younger voters are a key segment in this election," said DiCamillo. A 30-point decline "is huge," DiCamillo said and underscores the concern among Democrats that many younger voters "may just decide not to vote."

Even if that wouldn't cause Biden to lose the state, Democrats further down the ballot fear that a lower turnout could lead to Democratic losses in closely fought swing congressional districts. California has at least four districts that both parties consider tossups, enough to potentially determine which party controls the House next year.

To the extent that the poll has good news for Biden it's this: His standing with voters may have bottomed out. After rising consistently in polls over the last three years, the share who see him unfavorably, 49%, hasn't changed from the last Los Angeles Times-Berkeley IGS poll in early January.

Moreover, in a reelection match against Trump, who is also very unpopular, Biden can still win voters who have an unfavorable view of him. Of the voters who back Biden in a head-to-head matchup with Trump, about 1 in 6 view the president unfavorably. About two-thirds of those who said they remained undecided also disapprove of Biden.

But getting votes from people who have a negative view is definitely doing things the hard way. Boosting the number of voters who see the president favorably remains job No. 1 for his reelection campaign.


Trump dominates the GOP

Despite Nikki Haley's best efforts to inject suspense into the Republican primaries, the outcome isn't really in doubt. Trump's dominance of the GOP wobbled briefly after the Republicans' poor showing in the 2022 midterm elections, but he surged back into control in 2023.

Among likely Republican primary voters in California, 75% now say they plan to vote for Trump, compared to just 15% for Haley, the poll found. Trump's support is up from 66% in early January and 57% in October.

In the early voting states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, Haley got a lot of her support from independent voters. But they can't participate in California's Republican primary. With only registered Republicans eligible to vote, Trump dominates all major demographic groups in the California primary.


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