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Early balloting for state candidates, props

Voters at a political rally in Santa Monica during the 2016 election campaign. (Photo: Joseph Sohm)

Editor’s Note: This is the first of two stories surveying early voting in Tuesday’s election. Tomorrow’s story, which will be posted about mid-day,  will focus on California’s congressional races.

A survey of California’s early vote-by-mail balloting shows Democrats Gavin Newsom and Dianne Feinstein ahead by double-digit margins in their races for governor and U.S. Senate, respectively.

In response to more than 20,000 questionnaires emailed to absentee voters who had already cast their ballots, Newsom, the lieutenant governor, was favored by 54% to 41% over Republican John Cox. Feinstein, an incumbent U.S. senator, had an 11-point edge, 45% to 34%, over rival Democrat Kevin de León, the former state Senate leader.

Regarding three of California’s most controversial ballot propositions, the most closely divided was Proposition 6, which would repeal the state’s newly imposed fuel tax: 42 percent opposed the repeal, 38 percent favored it.

Proposition 6 was heavily supported by Republicans, with 67% yes and 21% no, while 57% of Democrats opposed it and 43% of independents also were in opposition.

Early voters surveyed opposed Proposition 8, the kidney dialysis measure, by a 2-to-1 ratio — 54% to 27%. The opposition was spread across all ages and ethnicities.

Voters also opposed the rent control initiative, Proposition 10, 51% to 33%. Young voters, those 18-to-34, were the only age group to support the measure, 46% to 33%. About 57% of seniors were in opposition.

About three out of four Republicans, or 74%, opposed Proposition 10, while Democrats were in support, 48% to 35%.

Details of the Capitol Weekly survey can be found here. The data were collected via email by Survey Monkey.

In the Newsom-Cox race, about 4 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t remember how they voted, while 1 percent said they skipped the race entirely. In the Feinstein- De León duel, 12% didn’t recall and 9 percent skipped the race.

Overall, more than a fourth of California’s voters who received mail-in ballots had already voted by the weekend, or about 28 percent of the 13 million people who were sent mail-in ballots.

The numbers reflect the results of an initial round of Capitol Weekly questionnaires sent after early voting began, about a month before election day. By Tuesday morning, about 25,000 questionnaires will have been sent to those who have already voted.

Note, the impact of California’s early voting can be seen here. 

Overall, more than a fourth of California’s voters who received mail-in ballots had already voted by the weekend, or about 28 percent of the 13 million people who were sent mail-in ballots. As of Oct. 22, California had about 19.7 million registered voters, or 78.16 percent of the 25.2 million who were eligible to register.

The leads for Newsom and Feinstein are consistent with other polling conducted throughout the election cycle, but there are other features worth noting in these early surveys. CA 120 Initial Results.

–Newsom has a dramatic, 20-point edge over Cox among voters with no party preference. And that lead could rise further if late absentees and poll voters trend Democratic, which has happened in the past.

–Voters surveyed in two competitive Orange County congressional districts showed Newsom with a slight, two-point lead, so one question on election night is whether Cox will be able to hold on to those districts.

–More women than men have a “very favorable view” of Gavin Newsom, 33% to 27%. Overall, Newsom’s favorability ratings are slightly higher among women than men.

–Both Cox, a relative newcomer to California’s political landscape, and Newsom hold on to approximately 90% of their respective parties.

The only area in which Hernandez shows significant strength is among Latinos, where he is winning 40% to 30%.

Lieutenant Governor
Eleni Kounalakis, who has been endorsed by Barack Obama and Kamala Harris, is showing a strong lead over state Sen. Ed Hernandez.

Kounalakis, the former U.S Ambassador to Hungary, was favored 40% to 28% over Hernandez, the chair of the Senate Health Committee. But fully 8% said they skipped the race, and — remarkably — another 24% said they couldn’t remember how they voted.

Clearly, Kounalakis brings a gender advantage to this race at a time when the #MeToo movement is strong, especially in California.

She is leading among women by 20-points, she wins among Democrats 53% to 32%, and she wins among independents with no party preference.

The only area in which Hernandez shows significant strength is among Latinos, where he is winning 40% to 30%.

If he prevails on election day, Poizner will pull off the first victory for an independent candidate since the 2012 creation of California’s current open primary system.

Insurance Commissioner
Steve Poizner, a former Republican and former insurance commissioner who wants his old job back, was leading Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara, 45% to 33% in early absentees. Four percent of those surveyed said they didn’t vote in the race, and 23 percent don’t remember.

This contest was defined by one thing: Could Steve Poizner walk a tightrope? Could he successfully reinvent himself as an “independent” to the bulk of the electorate, but as a Republican to the GOP voters?  It seems that he can.

Republicans support the newly independent Poizner by a 71%-to-4% margin over Lara. Lara holds on to Democrats, but at a slightly lower level, 63%-to-14% advantage.

The independents break strongly to Poizner, 42%-to-29%.

If he prevails on election day, Poizner will pull off the first victory for an independent candidate since the 2012 creation of California’s current open primary system.  One big question is whether this is a repeatable event, or is it just a one-time win by a self-funding candidate who could run as a quasi-incumbent, since he held the job from 2007-2011?

The 2018 statewide ballot had nonpartisan candidates running in a very contentious race for Superintendent of Public Instruction and for California Insurance Commissioner.

Superintendent of Public Instruction
This is shaping up as the tight statewide race of election day.

Early mail-ins show Marshall Tuck, an unsuccessful candidate for the same job four years ago, over Tony Thurmond 32% to 31%, with 5% skipping, 32% don’t recall.

This race really is too close to call. There is a clear partisan divide, with double-digit leads for Tuck among Republicans, and similar margins for Thurmond among Democrats, and they are roughly tied with independents.

While Thurmond is obtaining strong support from teachers unions, voters with a union member in the household give Thurmond just a 7-point lead, 39% to 32%.  Those with a child in their household favor Tuck by a small 5-point margin, 31-26.

The nonpartisan candidates
The 2018 statewide ballot had nonpartisan candidates running in a very contentious race for Superintendent of Public Instruction and for California Insurance Commissioner.

But what happens when we ask people what political party each is most identified with?

Tony Thurmond is properly identified as a Democrat by 34% of voters, with 42% of Democrats and 49% of African Americans.  Marshall Tuck, also a Democrat, is only properly identified by 18% of voters, with 22% believing he is a Republican.  And in the Insurance Commissioner’s race, Steve Poizner is identified as a Republican by 24% of voters and 29% of Republicans, with 10% of each thinking he is a Democrat.

Editor’s Note: Data for the survey were provided by Political Data, which markets information to political campaigns.

 


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