On a Volatile Election Day, California Supports Democrats

While election results remain tensely in the air for states like Nevada and Alaska, which have received nationwide attention for their high-profile senatorial and governor campaigns, early California voters have come out strong in favor of Democratic candidates.

In a Public Policy Polling (PPP) report released on November 1, major candidates Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer both showed significant leads over their Republican opponents, with Brown ahead of Meg Whitman by 51-46 for governor and Boxer up 50-46 on Carly Fiorina for the Senate.

“The California races have tightened over the final week of the campaign but Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown are both over the magic 50 percent line,” said PPP president Dean Debnam.

Despite late polls that posted low approval numbers, Boxer rates more favorably with Californians than Fiorina, whose approval ratings at the same time showed a 44 percent negative opinion.

In addition, PPP says, a Republican candidate in California would need to obtain 20 percent of the Democratic vote as well as a large support base of independents. Fiorina holds only 12 percent of the Democratic votes and is well behind Boxer with independents, trailing at a 50-46 margin.

The governor’s race reflects similar numbers. Whitman currently has 13 percent of Democratic votes and also follows Brown with a 50-46 margin of independents. Despite having spent more than $140 million of her own money on her campaign, Whitman never received strong support, with 50 percent of California voters rating her unfavorably.

Whitman’s campaign also struggled to recover from a controversial revelation that her former housekeeper was an illegal immigrant, with a Los Angeles Times/USC poll showing that Whitman’s standing fell with both conservatives and liberals.

Statistician and political analyst Nate Silver of The New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog also projects Boxer winning, currently holding a 51.3 percent lead over Fiorina’s 45.9 percent.

The win would be an essential step for Democrats to retain some control over the Senate, as California stood as one of the three “tipping point states,” alongside Washington and West Virginia, which would make the most influential decisions in whether Republicans would gain the one necessary seat to control the Senate.

“The California race was providing the Republicans with at least some redundancy in how they night win enough seats to take over the Senate,” Silver stated. “Increasingly, however, it looks unlikely that Republicans can win the Senate race in California.”

According to Silver, a win for Brown by eight points would net the Democrats 700,000 votes.

YouGov, which conducted a survey of 1,000 California voters, also noted the influence of young voters, whose participation in the election will likely have a powerful impact on the results.

According to the report, “both the race of US Senate and the race for Governor are being colored in the final days by a strong movement among likely voters under age 30 toward the Democratic candidates.” Boxer’s lead increased by ten points over the week of October 25-31, which is “enough for [her] to hold onto her lead and solidify it.” Brown’s lead has also expanded significantly, from 34 to 52 points, “putting the race out of reach for the free-spending Whitman,” the report stated.