Results of 2018 California Mid-term Pre-Election Poll

This analysis is based on the results from our poll of 428 randomly-sampled likely California November general election voters which we fielded October 29 through November 1. The turnout model reflects 53% participation in the upcoming election. The margin of sampling error is +/-4.7% at the 95% confidence level. Interviews were conducted by trained professionals from our offices in El Paso, TX, and via e-mail.

CA Governor

Democrat Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom enjoys a commanding 22-point lead over Republican businessman John Cox in the race for governor. Most of Newsom’s support is firm, positioning the former San Francisco mayor to win election on Tuesday. Only 8% remain undecided, putting this race out of reach for Cox.

Key factors in the vote for governor include a voter’s ideology, partisanship, and mood related to the state’s direction. Very conservative voters are firmly committed to Cox, and if California’s far right accounted for more than 12% of the electorate, the Trump-endorsed businessman would be more competitive. Cox also performs extremely well with somewhat conservative Republicans, but he only has a modest amount of crossover appeal among moderately conservative Democrats and non-partisans.

Fifty-three percent of the state’s voters are ideologically liberal, and, with one interesting exception, they’re in Newsom’s corner. It’s liberals who think things in California are headed in the wrong direction who haven’t quite committed to Newsom, and this belies his quasi-incumbent status. Because Cox is too far to the right for their tastes, this group is holding its nose and leaning toward the Lieutenant Governor. Newsom leads Cox by 22% among ideological moderates, with a sizable 24% still unsure who they will vote for.

U.S. Senate

Longtime incumbent Dianne Feinstein is beating California State Senator Kevin de Leon by a large margin and will win re-election.

Feinstein has an enormous lead among the 20% on the far-left of the ideological spectrum. She has an even larger lead with center-left voters who are somewhat or very reliable when it comes to casting a ballot. These folks know her and fully 73% side with Feinstein. De Leon pulls even among unreliable center-left voters, but the most fascinating aspect of this race is the other segment Feinstein struggles with: conservatives. The right prefers the more liberal de Leon over Feinstein by about 9 points. This could be a backlash against Feinstein stemming from her recent opposition to then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, or possibly from a longtime dislike for the U.S. Senator who they are more familiar with.


Proposition 6

Hotly contested Proposition 6 will likely lose, but a gas tax repeal would likely win. Supporters have criticized the official ballot language as misleading and continue their campaign to “repeal the gas tax.” We tested both the literal ballot wording of Proposition 6 – which is clearly behind — and a conceptual version, asking random halves of the sample for their opinion on each. Results for the conceptual version are the exact opposite of what we find for the literal version. The wording of the ballot measure is consequential and may well doom the measure.

Opinions of Proposition 6 divide mainly along partisan lines and Republicans are generally supportive.Deep analysis of the results for the literal version shows Democrats and non-partisans ages 66 and younger typically vote “no,” though 26% are unsure. Their older counterparts are, apparently, adamantly opposed to Proposition 6 and voting “no” 76% of the time. Republicans—both young and old—are overwhelmingly voting “yes.”

But this is where things get interesting. Non-Republicans older than 66 who were asked about the conceptual version of Proposition 6 oppose repealing the gas tax only 48% of the time – 28% less often than in the version that will appear on the ballot. Thirty-four percent of them also vote “yes” on the concept compared to only 14% voting “yes” on the actual ballot measure. This suggests that many older Democrats and non-partisans are confused by the ballot wording and would vote to repeal the gas tax.



Proposition 10

More than half the electorate is voting “no” on Proposition 10, which would expand local governments’ authority to enact rent control on residential property.

Very liberal voters who registered in the past three years constitute the measure’s base of support.  Moderately liberal Latinos are also supportive, though much more mildly so. All other groups will vote “no,” including the oddity of those on the far left who registered before 2016 joining with conservatives to oppose the roll back of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

Founded in 1987, Competitive Edge has conducted surveys for thousands of clients across the nation and has conducted many statewide surveys for political, corporate and public affairs clients.

John Nienstedt is the pollster for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

CERC is not retained by any California statewide campaign.

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