In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns. The update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race. California may matter more this time because it votes on Super Tuesday and mail ballots go out on February 3.
Less than a year before California’s presidential primary, Democratic likely voters and those who lean Democratic are divided on a key question: Is it more important to nominate the candidate whose views align with their own or the one who seems most likely to defeat President Trump? Older voters are more likely to say that the ability to defeat Trump is more important, while younger voters are more likely to think it is more important to nominate a candidate with views similar to theirs. These are among the key findings of a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).
Among likely voters who identify themselves as registered Democrats or as independents who lean Democratic, 48 percent say it is more important to choose the candidate most likely to beat Trump, while slightly fewer—42 percent—say it is more important to choose the nominee whose views align with theirs.
Among those age 18 to 44, about half (51%) choose a candidate with similar views (43% able to defeat Trump). Among those age 45 and over, 52 percent prioritize the candidate’s ability to defeat Trump (37% candidate whose views align with theirs).
Overall, two-thirds of California’s likely voters (65%) say they will definitely or probably choose a candidate other than Trump. This view is held overwhelmingly by Democrats (93%) and by a strong majority of independents (66%). But an overwhelming majority of Republican likely voters (82%) say they would definitely or probably vote to reelect Trump if the election were held today. Similarly, there is a partisan divide among likely voters on approval of Trump: 84% of Republicans approve of how Trump is handling his job as president, compared to far fewer independents (43%) and Democrats (8%).
“With the 2020 presidential primary looming large in California, Republicans overwhelmingly want to reelect Trump, while most Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are divided about what they are looking for in a candidate to defeat Trump,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.
Asked to choose the attributes that are most important in a presidential candidate, half of likely voters (52%) prefer experience and a proven record, while 39 percent opt for new ideas and a different approach. Democrats who are likely voters are divided on this question, with 49 percent saying experience and 42 percent saying new ideas, while majorities of Republican (60%) and independent (53%) likely voters prefer experience.