Republican enthusiasm eclipses Democrats and remains high in a post Kavanagh confirmation environment. Gas Tax Repeal is tied this week and race for Gov begins to settle with Newsom above 50%. Generic Ballot slightly tightens matching Trump’s approvals.
The sixth week of conducting our weekly California survey reveals voters’ Republicans enthusiasm levels remaining high, race for Lt. Gov moves back to a dead tie and voters continue to oppose impeachment.
Newsom loses nearly 3% this week and Cox picks up 1% point. Newsom’s advantage with No Party Preference voters is slipping back to 46.7% to Cox’s 44.8%.
- Gavin Newsom: 50.7%
- John Cox: 43.3%
- Unsure: 5.9%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: The race seems to be settling out to where it wants to be with Newsom slightly above 50% and Cox right around 43%. Cox remains competitive with NPP voters but in order to overcome the significant Republican registration deficit he must win the NPP block by a large margin. While early voting is underway Cox can still tighten this race as we head into the home stretch of Election Day voters. It will require a major investment of paid media dollars that currently his campaign does not have.
Newsom’s strategy thus far seems clear – reinforce and build good will around Newsom’s positive profile and just as of this last week he has introduced an ad attacking Trump without mentioning Cox’s name. It’s an interesting approach, attempt to benefit from Trump’s low approval ratings without giving Cox a name ID lift. Newsom is adhering to the political adage of never attacking down. As of today this race remains Newsom’s to lose.
Lt. Gov. Race
Last week Eleni had a 6 point lead but this week’s track shows a tied race and still a large undecided at 47.6%.
- Eleni Kounalakis: 26.1%
- Ed Hernandez: 26.2%
- Unsure: 47.6%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: The television ad wars are in full effect between Eleni and Ed. In this low information contest it is clear voters do not know where to turn as of yet. Since we tracked last week Hernandez’s tv campaign went live and clearly brought the race back to parity. This race will come down to spend levels and who has the better/stickier message.
Insurance Commissioner Race
This race is beginning to settle out with Steve Poizner growing his initial lead to 46.7% with only 14.7% undecided. Poizner is dominating the No-Party-Preference voting bloc with 57% to Lara’s 25%.
- Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara: 38.5%
- Steve Poizner: 46.7%
- Unsure: 14.7%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: This race has been relatively steady for the last few weeks with Poizner maintaining his advantage over Lara. Poizner just began his paid television ad blitz so we’ll be watching closely to see if he can crack the 50% threshold next week. Lara has to break Poizner’s strong advantage with NPP voters and cut in half Poizner’s grip on 28.3% of Democrat voters. If elected, Poizner will be the state of California’s first NPP statewide officeholder.
Prop 6 - Gas Tax Repeal
This week our survey reveals the race to repeal the gas tax at an even tie of 35% Yes to 35.7% No. This movement is a beyond the margin of error swing from last week. There is a clear age support gap in 18-34 block with 52% voting Yes to 24% voting No. 35-54 aged voters are against repeal with 44.7% voting No to 26.2% Yes. Age 55+ is evenly split at 35% Yes to 33.8% No.
- Yes: 35.0%
- No: 35.7%
Margin of Error: +/- 3%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: The fight to repeal the gas tax is back in the hunt this week with a clear jump ball. What is so interesting about these numbers is that the No side has been heavily advertising on paid media against repeal an reframing the conversation to an infrastructure protection and public safety measure. The No side has made the case that people will literally die if
this measure passes. Despite all that advertising and relatively little to no advertising from the Yes side, this race has tightened and is a jump ball.
The Yes side is winning and growing their margins with NPP and Republican voters since last week’s track. 44.7% of Republicans are now saying they will vote Yes on the measure yet 26.4% of Republicans still voting No. If the Yes side can quickly consolidate Republicans and grow their margins with NPP this measure still has a chance to prevail. With the race tightening it is signally that the No side is not a slam dunk. It’s showing that voters are skeptical, at least initially, to the No sides ad campaigns. A pro-tip for the No side, quickly cut three to four sets of creative using different messages, rush to do online a/b panels to see who changes their vote and then pump dollars into that spot. It’s quite possible the No side’s message and/or creative is simply not as sticky and powerful as it could be. Now is the time to potentially put another spot in rotation and make sure you’ve tested it.
Focus grouping alone in this circumstance is not wide. You need A/B testing to see who actually changes their vote when exposed to the ad.
For the Yes side, you should be buoyed by these numbers. The electorate is skeptical to the No sides messaging and the wording of the ballot. But do not be fooled, without a major push in earned media AND paid messaging the No side still has the upper hand.
We’ll keep watching this race closely up until the finish line to see how the undecideds evolve.
The Generic Ballot has tightened slightly this week but has remained relatively constant since we have begun testing.
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: We are watching the generic ballot to see if a wave is building. Typically, a widening of the generic ballot accelerates as we approach Election Day. So far the ballot has remained relatively constant indicating that while Democrats have a clear advantage, there appears to be no wave in California building.
Californian’s still maintain that Trump should not be impeached this week with the unsures increasing slightly.
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: Trump is still in positive territory with 47% of Californian’s against impeachment. We are watching this numbers as yet another indicator of the national winds that might effect federal races and help us see a wave coming.
We’ll resume trackings this race next week.
Republicans have eclipsed Democrats in their levels of enthusiasm beyond the margin of error this week. Lastly week the enthusiasm was high on both sides but was tied within the margin.
Question: Do you think November's election for Congress is very important, important, not very important, or not important at all?
- Republican: 79.0%
- Democratic: 73.7%
Editorial from Strategist John Thomas: It is fascinating to see Republican’s enthusiasm remain highly charged post Kavanaugh confirmation. Make no mistake, both sides are charged up but Republicans are taking a clear lead this week in enthusiasm. If these numbers remain high going into November this might just be enough to help the GOP hold some of the Orange County congressional races.
Methodology Statement: Between 10/12-10/14, we surveyed 1,068 modeled likely midterm voters in California via IVR, landline only. Likely voters were defined as registered voters having voted in the 2010 and 2014 midterm general elections, or in the 2016 primaries, plus the 15% additional most likely to turnout in the 2018 general based on in-house turnout score modeling. Margin of error varies by question and segment but is generally +/- 3.5% for topline results. Sample was weighted by age, gender, party, and DMA. Results were then re-balanced after processing results based on these same cohorts to account for differential response rates.
Photo: Getty Images