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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The California Exception

Mark DiCamillo, director of The Field Poll, explains at Opinion Today why California bucked GOP tides in 2010 and 2014.  First, even in a low-turnout election, the CA electorate has more minorities than the US electorate, but the behavior of white voters is different, too.
While the California exit poll available publicly didn’t subdivide the electorate with regard to voter preferences in House races across the state, a good substitute would be to examine the preferences of voters in the state’s six partisan candidate elections other than governor (i.e., the “down-ballot” races) as measured in the final pre-election Field Poll, whose results closely corresponded to election outcomes in each race.
What it shows is that this year the state’s white non-Hispanic voters were evenly divided in their preferences between the Democrat and Republican candidates across the six down-ballot races, with each party’s candidates averaging about 44% of the voting preferences. This is in stark contrast to the 24-percentage point advantage that Republicans held over the Democrats in House races across the country.
Thus, one of the major factors underlying the very different election outcomes nationally and in California relates to the voting preferences of white non-Hispanics.
Second, region and ethnicity worked in tandem.
According to the [final Field pre-election] poll, white non-Hispanic voters living in the state’s thirty-eight inland counties were supporting Republican candidates in these races by an average of 20 points, 51% to 31%, similar to the 24-point Republican edge in House races.
By contrast, the poll shows that white non-Hispanics living in the state’s twenty coastal counties were supporting Democratic candidates in the down-ballot races by an average of ten points, 46% to 36%.
Thus, one of the biggest contributors to the Democratic Party’s electoral successes here versus its dismal showing across the country relates to the very different voting preferences of the state’s white non-Hispanic voters, and in particular, those living along the coast.