Exit poll: In tight CA race, absentee voters favor Hillary

Presidential candidates. (Illustration by Tim Foster, Capitol Weekly)

With just hours until polls close in California, the crucial Democratic presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders appears to be tightening. On the Republican side, the unopposed presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump is trying to show that he can consolidate the Republican electorate behind his candidacy.

Both make for interesting contests, albeit for completely different reasons.

The results of the online exit poll show Hillary leading in absentee votes by 10 points.

As a core part of the Capitol Weekly Absentee Voter Exit Poll, we sought to develop a tool that would allow us to survey enough of the early electorate to track support at the statewide level for each candidate and obtain similar results from each of California’s 53 congressional districts. We seek to give our readers a sense of which districts are solid for a candidate and where the battlegrounds lie, based solely on absentee voters who have returned ballots.

With more than 35,000 respondents overall who have completed the survey, we definitely have the size and depth to provide both a Republican and a Democratic presidential exit poll of absentee voters broken down by congressional district.

Here are our findings, subject to some caveats described below.

Democrats: A Late Surge, or More of the Same?
Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders can look at the polling and find challenges.  See Online Survey Results Here.

The results of the online exit poll show Hillary leading in absentee votes by 10 points.   This does not predict that she is going to win by that margin, but it gives us a sense of the current state of the race based on ballots already cast, and the starting point for each campaign as polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Statewide Result
Hillary Clinton        55
Bernie Sanders      45

This result is based on at least 21,554 respondents, weighted by geography, party registration, age, ethnicity and gender to match the voters who have already cast ballots as of June 4, according to Political Data Inc.

The online version provides a congressional-level breakdown, is weighted to age and will continue to collect survey responses through Election Day, accounting for some variations.

Much like traditional exit polls this year, we did find participation rates among groups with stronger support for Sanders (younger, more male) over-represented among our respondent pool relative to the demographics of the actual universe of voters who had returned their ballots.

While topline results can be informative, it is deeper within the data that we see some of the trends that have defined this contest for months.  As the following two charts show, income and age are key factors for each campaign.  Clinton’s strongest support is older and higher income; Sanders’ younger and less affluent.Graphics A


Additionally, Clinton is showing a greater lead among women who have returned their absentee ballots, along with a nearly 40% lead among African Americans.

The current strongholds for each candidate reflect these variables.  They are areas that can easily be identified as seats where income, age and ethnicity come into play and offer a distinctive character.

San Diego County, thus far among people who have voted, appears to be the greatest stronghold for Clinton.

We also find Clinton getting 55%-to-58% of the early vote in the Bay Area congressional districts and narrower margins in the LA-area.  Sanders’ best regions are the far North Coast and the Central Coast.  In the Central Valley, we found great disparity on a district-by-district basis.

Best Performing Hillary Clinton Districts
CA36 Palm Desert (Raul Ruiz- D) 71%
CA51 San Diego (Juan Vargas- D) 68%
CA52 La Jolla (Scott Peters- D) 65%
CA43 Los Angeles (Maxine Waters- D) 64%
CA53 San Diego (Susan Davis- D) 63%


Best Performing Bernie Sanders Districts
CA24 Santa Barbara (Lois Capps- D) 59%
CA10 Atwater (Jeff Denham- R) 59%
CA1 Richvale (Doug LaMalfa- R) 63%
CA20 Carmel (Sam Farr- D) 63%
CA40 Los Angeles (Lucille Roybal-Allard- D) 67%

Turnout appears high on the Democratic side, with 2.8 million votes cast and reported to Political Data Inc as of the Saturday before the election.

For comparison, the Saturday prior to the 2014 General Election had 2.5 million, in the 2012 Primary it was 2 million, and in the 2008 Presidential Primary there were only 1.8 million votes cast by that time.

This high turnout comes on the heels of a massive new voter registration with more than 2.3 million new and re-registrations.

Each of these factors could be the kindling and the spark prior to Tuesday’s presidential Primary election.

But, at the same time, the electorate that has turned out so far appears to be very similar to the trends we have seen in the past.

The turnout of independent voters, those with no party preference, appears low, as one would expect in a primary election.

And because of a problem with these voters getting Democratic ballots, some strong Sanders supporters might be getting lost in a paper shuffle. Thus, the independent share of the Democratic presidential primary electorate will be considerably lower than the overall independent primary vote – a factor for which not all recent polls have accounted.

If all independent absentee voters had received Democratic presidential primary ballots automatically, we suspect the Clinton advantage would have been narrowed a bit.  Our poll identified around 800 No Party Preference absentee voters who wanted to vote in the Democratic primary but mailed in their ballot without having made the needed request.  They favored Sanders by around a 3:2 margin.

Added to this is the fact that young voters, those who accounted for a majority of the new voter registration surge, only account for 10% of the votes returned thus far.

At the same time, Latinos, a strong part of the Clinton coalition in other states, also appears to be participating at about half-strength (typical for primaries), and polling suggests that Sanders is cutting into, or taking the lead with these voters – as they are disproportionately younger.

Sanders has maintained that he will win the state even though the demographics are not a strong match for the states in which he’s been strongest.  These results indicate it will require a primary election day voter turnout considerably larger than any we’ve seen recently, among groups who historically are the least likely primary voters.

A Republican Attempt to Consolidate
On the Republican side, we can use this tool to better understand Trump’s ability to consolidate different kinds of Republican voters – from rural to urban to suburban districts, and dive into support from different income brackets, ages, gender and ethnicities.  See the Online Survey Results here.

Statewide, as expected, the vast majority of Republicans are supporting Trump, with some voters casting protest votes for candidates no longer in the race, or stating that they wrote in another name, with Marco Rubio earning the spot as the top write-in.

Statewide Result
Donald Trump   80
Ted Cruz              6
John Kasich         11
Ben Carson         2
Jim Gilmore        1

This result is weighted for age and gender, and based on the results as of Saturday, July 5.  The online version is only weighted by age and will continue to update as additional voters complete surveys, accounting for some variation.

The Trump map shows strength in the northern and central portions of the state where the Republicans are white and rural, some urban seats where the Republicans are blue-collar working class whites.  His weaknesses are in areas with highly educated white voters, like parts of the Bay Area and areas where there are heavy minority populations, but where working class white voters have left and some high income pockets remain.

A closer look at the districts where Trump is out-performing Mitt Romney reveals that they are some of the districts with the whitest and lowest income residents, areas with high unemployment, and potentially more disaffected Republicans who have felt left out of the state’s economic recovery.

Trump Congressional-Level Results

CA44 Los Angeles (Janice Hahn- D) 88%
CA36 Los Angeles (Tony Cardenas- D) 87%
CA43 Santa Ana (Loretta Sanchez- D) 85%
CA29 Palm Desert (Raul Ruiz- D) 83%
CA 22 Tulare (Devon Nunes- R) 82%


CA12 San Francisco (Nancy Pelosi- D) 53%
CA37 Los Angeles (Karen Bass- D) 60%
CA13 Oakland (Barbara Lee- D) 61%
CA11 Concord (Mark DeSaulnier- D) 63%
CA19 San Jose (Zoe Lofgren- D) 63%

It is also possible that the districts where he is doing best are those with the most conservative Republican voters, while those with more centrist or even liberal views are casting protest votes, or choosing to not vote at all.  As the survey shows, this ideological divide is the greatest we found in the survey.Graphic B

The real test for Trump is if he can use this Tuesday’s primary election as proof that he can consolidated voters behind his candidacy.

Looking at past Republican and Democratic presidential primaries, the most recent comparison might be the 2012 Mitt Romney campaign.

In that election, Ron Paul had suspended his campaign while voters in this state were already casting ballots, and at the time of the primary he was making one final push with grassroots supporters attempting to give him a win that could restart a serious candidacy.  Despite some opposition, Romney still won 79.5% of the vote.

More similar to the current situation: In 1988 George H. W. Bush had hit the delegate threshold to win the nomination and earned 83% of the vote against Bob Dole and Pat Robertson who had already suspended their campaigns.

Then, four years later, Bush came to California facing another challenge from Pat Robertson, and in this election he only obtained 74% of the vote, despite having already locked up the nomination.

This second election, and his inability to consolidate Republican voters, foreshadowed his general election loss to Bill Clinton.

Currently, we have Trump slightly exceeding the Romney vote percentage, but below the 1988 successful vote percentage of the elder Bush.

Trump’s campaign will have to spin the evening’s result, whatever it is, into a story of a consolidating electorate while the Democrats are likely going to be pointing to the large protest vote, and lack of support in some key districts, as a sign that he cannot unite the GOP going into the fall.

Ed’s Note: Updates to reflect increase in respondents to absentee voter survey to 35,000 overall, 4th graf; updates respondents on Democratic side to 21,554. Pollster Jonathan Brown, a regular contributor to Capitol Weekly’s CA120 column, is the president of Sextant Strategies. Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., and Alan Nigel Yan, an intern from UC Berkeley, assisted with this story.

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  • IHeartSD

    By the way … the 52nd is in San Diego … La Jolla is a community located WITHIN San Diego.

  • gghh88888

    DINO Bernie is TOAST

  • Trum Stir

    Dream on Hillary bots. Crooked Hillary is going to get beaten badly today at the polls!

    • Rob

      Oh, okay, Dangerous Donald supporter, and don’t deny it, because if you hate Hillary, that makes you a Dangerous Donald supporter. Period.

      • ExpatZ

        Yer for us or yer against us.
        I like how you channelled Bush right there.

        • Rob

          I didn’t know I channeled Bush, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

          • ExpatZ

            So you are a non functional inanimate object?
            OK. Guess I gave you too much credit there.

          • Rob

            I was talking about Bush. You are probably a little slow, so I will spell it out for you. This means: Even if I agreed with Bush on something (as you pointed out), that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Even Bush is occasionally right. Hopefully, this clears up your confusion.

  • stickist

    The “current state of the race” has nothing to do with absentee votes, some of which were sent in a month ago. The trajectory of both Dem candidates has been stunning since, with Clinton losing points to Sanders at a rapid rate. The turnout today will tell a more accurate tale.

  • georgebush12

    Madam President! Hillary Clinton.

    • One Texan

      Love it – Madam President Clinton & Mr. President Clinton – the only Mr. & Mrs. couple in history to be addressed as such. This isn’t just first female president history, the Clintons are also making first couple history as well! 🙂

      • Seth Davidson

        What freaking planet have you been living on? they would be the worst thing to happen to the usa.

        • gghh88888

          That would be criminal/liar trump

          • Seth Davidson

            You are delusional and transporting a highly likely possibility that Clinton WILL go to jail on a desire for it to happen to someone else.

          • RealityCheck131

            Transporting doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means.

        • gghh88888

          Trump for prison 2016

          • allandnn

            trump hillary for prison

        • DW Acaria

          You are full of hyperbole, and low-level thinking. And you are very confused. You need to read some history, and not get your ideas from pundits or partisan articles. The Clinton and Obama administrations have not only done a better job at working toward resolving social problems, they did a much better job with the economy and budgets! And national security! Since 9/11, under Bush’s careless watch, 71 people have been killed in America, by terrorists (of any ilk!). Compare that to the single disaster of 9/11, and the messy death pit of the invasions of IraqName the area where you think they would be the “worst” thing for America, and the numbers will show otherwise. Really seek the truth, and not on political opinion pages or tv shows. I challenge you to do the work. But you won’t. You are another lazy American, perfectly at home in the Age of Ignorance.

          • Seth Davidson

            Have they returned the silverware they stole the last time they infested the whitehouse?

          • ElScott

            How about that jobs report, GDP, North Africa, Middle East, Far East, Central Asia, Europe, or Crimea.
            Lookin good!

          • Janet Claire

            How about NAFTA and the housing crisis? Both of which affected millions of Americans while the government and most other Americans just turned a blind eye and suffer from the NOT ME syndrome.

          • allandnn

            some one is forgetting the honduras coup and the hati fiascos clinton forced or the fracking agenda she let people get killed over because they rioted against fracking or the people assassinated afterwards because they don’t like the new oppressive regime changes

          • Paulezy

            Are you stupid or something?

      • SBG

        Just because it’s the first doesn’t make it a good thing!!!! This is AMERICA not a friggin monarchy. Our top office doesn’t belong in the hands of the same families over and over.

        • Ranger One B5

          Hehe, we almost had a Bush vs. Clinton campaign… Trump vs. Clinton is probably the only worse possible race that could have happened…

          • Seth Davidson

            all these people talking about who is a good candidate but never step up themselves to take a shot.

            I might hate the Clintons but at least they’re brave enough to try.

          • allandnn

            integrity is more important than the clinton campaign

          • ExpatZ

            Trump is no way as right wing as Bush or any of his family are.
            Don’t buy into the media spin about, check out his actual domestic and foreign policy stances. The media will tell you doesn’t have any but they are lying, as they always do for the established order.

        • xp84

          Lol where were you during Bush I and II?

        • ~~~♥♥Baby Doll♥♥~~~

          any woman who votes for hillary JUST BECAUSE she is a woman, deserves to loose the right to vote, try not drinking the kool aid and vote with your head, not your vagina!

          • ExpatZ

            That ^

          • Metalman

            click on the little delta shaped thing to up vote

      • ~~~♥♥Baby Doll♥♥~~~

        a serial raper and a murderer….if this is your idea of presidential material, you nee4d to stop smoking crack!

      • ElScott

        Or what about Inmate 48754 and Inmate 77342. First first family in the Big House

    • ~~~♥♥Baby Doll♥♥~~~

      will they turn her jail cell into an oval office?

      • Metalman

        No they can’t make a jail cell ovular. They can add bars to the oval office, though!! If that duplicitous criminal makes it in, we wouldn’t want it getting out, would we?

    • ExpatZ

      Not likely, a win for her today means President Trump in the long haul.

    • Metalman

      I hope you people are young, so you’ll realize voting for such a frivolous reason is a mistake and a wasted vote, but demographically, it’s unlikely.

      Our first female president should be more like a human and less like a snake, slithering between political ideologies and hiding in dark patches of ambiguity until an external consensus is reached on whatever matter she’s asked about.

      Alternatively, I could’ve used a cooking metaphor about her waffling, or a rug metaphor about her lying.

    • EricKel

      Congrats on voting for a corrupt, sociopathic puppet of corporations and the military-industrial-intelligence complex, just because she doesn’t have male genitalia.

  • Georgia

    LOL “With 48 hours before polls close in California…” This should have read, “Our guess before polls have even opened in California…”

  • madamepresident2016

    President Hillary Rodham Clinton – SMILES

    Hillary leads Trump by double digits nationwide – YESSSSSSSS

    ” Lets Go Hillary “

    • Seth Davidson

      LOL I can’t wait to see the looks on your faces as the DNC convention burns to the ground.

      • Rob

        Not sure whether you are Democrat or Republican, but if you are Democrat, that’s a real shame.

        • Seth Davidson

          Watching Democrats fall kicking and screaming into the Hell they deserve is not a shame. It would be a gift to humanity.

          • RealityCheck131

            Well, you’re obviously part of the problem. Sane adults should be able to discuss politics without hoping the other side goes to hell.

          • Rob

            Oh, I see, you are a Republican. I am an Independent, but have forgotten that quite a bit lately, due to the behavior of the Republican nominee, and his followers. So, yeah, this shows me I’m on the right path. Probably should switch to Democrat.

          • Rob

            Oh, but Bernie is already coming around, and Elizabeth Warren’s on board. Just think of all the great speakers who will be making speeches for Hillary at the convention: Bill Clinton, Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders. LIke them or not, each and every one are great orators. Now that TRUMP has burned the Republican House down, who are you going to get? Little Marco? (he will forever be called that thanks to Trump), Sleepy, drowzy Ben? Because Lyin Ted and Low-Energy Bush hate Donald Trump.

      • Mark

        Aren’t we mature?

      • madamepresident2016

        President Hillary Rodham Clinton – YOU BEAUTY !!!!

      • Metalman


    • ExpatZ

      That assumes that most of Bernies voters vote for her. That number is currently less that 50% and falling right now. So no, she won’t beat Trump.

      • madamepresident2016

        President Hillary Rodham Clinton – You can take that to the bank and bank it and i don’t mean the Wall Street Banks – lolol

        ” lets Go Hillary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Peter Lewis

          It’s really not at all funny that you have to add the “and i don’t mean the Wall Street Banks” caveat. How pathetic this country has become. A bunch of reality-show cheerleaders.

          • madamepresident2016

            awwww you sound like a sore loser

            Come on over and support Hillary, you will much better – smiless

            ” Lets Go Hillary”

          • ExpatZ

            Sorry, I don’t support war criminals.

        • Metalman

          Hillary loves wall street.
          She’s a liar

          • madamepresident2016

            President Hillary Rodham Clinton – YOU BEAUTY!!!!

            ” lets Rock Hillary “

        • ExpatZ

          What other bank would Hillary use?

          • madamepresident2016

            The bank that backs her heheeeeeeeeee

    • Metalman

      “Let’s go Hillary”



      or alternatively

      “The garbage bin”

      • madamepresident2016

        and as they say, THE REST IS HISTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        President Hillary Rodham Clinton – YOU ROCK!!!!!

  • Ranger One B5

    The sad part is Clinton may have anything but an easy time beating Trump, one of the most well known, controversial and possibly reviled candidates ever to take the nomination. Tough year for the establishment given politicians may actually be hated more than a snake oil sales man like Trump.

  • Rob

    The first woman nominee has clinched the nomination, but she’s not allowed to celebrate for fear of offending Bernie voters. We live in a crazy world.

  • j. madison

    Madam President, Hillary Rodham Clinton!

    We know you’ll show em all Hillary!

    • Metalman

      yes show us all! that’s what presidents are for! Being novelty choices based on race or sex! Too bad she is the worst choice for president!

  • Luchetto Vote for Waldo!

    How can you have an exit poll on absentee votes?
    It’s conceptually nonsense.

    • RealityCheck131

      Uh, they use telephone surveys of those who voted ahead of time, smart guy.

      • Luchetto Vote for Waldo!

        It’s not an exit poll technically.

    • Janet Claire

      Thank you, so right you are. In fact all exit polls were cancelled. Don’t want any pesky evidence for the election fraud watchers to use.

  • Joe Leonard

    why is this article dated 6-5-2016, two full days before the events it is reporting on occurred…?

  • ~~~♥♥Baby Doll♥♥~~~

    Why does the MSM refuse to ask Crooked Hillary REAL QUESTIONS about her constant LIES over their “SLUSH FUND” aka The Clinton Foundation, the Russian Uranium Deal, or why does the story keeps changing about her Server/E-mail scandal, or the Benghazi LIES she told?

    WHY is MSM not investigating the the Law firm behind The Trump University Case since they PAID Bill and Hillary Clinton $900,000 for speeches, including $225,000 to Hillary in late 2014 after her presidential buzz started.


    #ClintonCash #HillaryForPrison2016 #nevercrookedhillary #HandcuffHillary #VoteTrump2016 #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

  • ~~~♥♥Baby Doll♥♥~~~

    The American Citizens is seeing all the political Corruption, Burning of the American Flag, While waving the Mexican Flag, setting Police Cars on fire, spitting on Americans, violent assaults, Property Destruction at rallies.

    Crooked Hillary Clinton, Telemundo And Soros Are Behind Violent Riots At Trump Rallies, Not Sanders with their paid Violent Bolshevik style protesters.

    Media downplays Gangsta thugs with Mexican Flags assaulting Americans! The police is doing nothing to stop them, WHO IS TELLING THE POLICE TO STAND DOWN????

    #ClintonCash #HillaryForPrison2016 #nevercrookedhillary #HandcuffHillary #VoteTrump2016 #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #TrumpSessions2016

  • ~~~♥♥Baby Doll♥♥~~~

    THERE IS NO AMERICA LEFT… Donald Trump is the only hope that Americans has left. He is standing up for the American people’s rights!

    Obama/Hillary wants to take away Our Second Amendment rights, as they bring ISIS to our doorstep, What has happened in Europe, will happen in America,

    Obama/Hillary erases our borders, The White House is now the WHITE MOSQUE. Trump will secure our borders, and put the safety of Americans first!


    #NRAStandAndFight #ClintonCash #HillaryForPrison2016 #nevercrookedhillary #HandcuffHillary #VoteTrump2016 #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

    • RealityCheck131

      Are you off your meds again?

  • 6Doctor6Strangelove6

    Bernie or bust.

  • Manny

    EAs has new Hillary Clinton Video game for release!
    Grand Theft America

  • madamepresident2016

    as the saying goes – THE REST IS HISTORY

    ” Lets Go Hillary – You beauty “

    • Janet Claire

      madamepresident2016, narcissist much?

      • madamepresident2016

        President Hillary Rodham Clinton – SMILING!!!!

        ” Lets Go Hillary “

  • Corey Geloneck

    She always seems to lead in the voters that aren’t there…

  • j. madison

    Metalman. You simply cannot let us enjoy the significance of this “our” historical moment – we’re talking centuries… without doing your negative best to tromp the joy and invalidate the depth of this achievement for Hillary Rodham Clinton and the MILLIONS of people and women who are proud of our vote for this brilliant, enduring, pioneering, extremely well qualified WOMAN!! Pull yourself together. It is OVER!

    • allandnn

      if you think letting a crook get the nomination is a momentous occasion you wait till the first democrat to hand over the white house to a known racist on a silver platter any woman not in clintons buddies would have been a better candidate by a mile

      • j. madison

        Under any other circumstances you could be held liable for your dishonest and distorted point of view. And frankly you do not even deserve this response. I respond not for you – but to stand up to schoolyard bullies like you who think your lying accusations and outbursts are the least bit relevant.

        • allandnn

          under other circumstances you would be better at math and logic the math says she can’t win with out a majority of independents plus the whole democratic party exit polls show that the primaries were basically rigged the exit polls are markers we use to determine in other countries if they are rigging elections they got rid of them after kentucky for a reason they don’t match up starting in iowa and continuing into california
 youll find that their are lawsuits in states going forward

        • allandnn

          I cant be held liable for facts only lies take me to court i dare you make sure to bring noterized proof for the judge that the events i spoke about didnt exist

  • Tom

    Do you think Hillary would have won had her last name not been Clinton?

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