Can Donald Trump compete for California, as he and his supporters have repeatedly asserted, and flip the Electoral College map? According to the latest Field Poll — usually considered a gold standard — it’s not looking good. In fact, Trump gets less support in this poll than Hillary Clinton’s lead, 30/28:
Hillary Clinton has expanded her already large lead over Donald Trump in California, plowing ahead by 30 percentage points in a head-to-head matchup, according to a new Field Poll.
The poll, unsurprising in this heavily Democratic state, comes as Trump continues to assert that he can compete with Clinton in the general election in California. No Republican presidential candidate has carried the state since George H.W. Bush in 1988.
Clinton’s 58 percent to 28 percent lead over Trump slips to 24 percentage points when Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, the choice of 10 percent of likely voters, is included in the poll.
Normally, this would be so unsurprising as to be totally unremarkable. However, Trump and his supporters insist that he can reset American politics across the board, from New York to California. The only upside to today’s Field results (from a sample of 956 likely voters) is that, unlike New York, Team Trump doesn’t appear to have put many resources into California.
This is the third Field study this year in California on the presidential race … and the worst for Trump. In March, Hillary led 59/31, and in May it was 53/34 — just after Trump clinched the nomination. Today’s 58/28 is his worst showing yet, and suggests he’s actually going the wrong direction in the Golden State.
What’s driving the poor showing? For one, Republicans are at a numerical disadvantage in California, which is one reason why GOP presidential candidates don’t spend time and resources there. But even with that, Trump has a 15-point gap in party support with Hillary. At the same time, Trump’s not appealing to independents either, with more of them undecided than backing him:
Trump’s campaign is driven by true believers, but there aren’t enough of them to make the presidential contest a race in as strong a Democratic state as California, especially when Republicans also have their doubts about their nominee. Even among self-described conservative voters, a group that’s reliably Republican, Trump only pulls 60 percent support.
While 87 percent of Democrats back Clinton, with only 5 percent moving to Trump, the developer turned reality TV star only has 72 percent support among California Republicans, with 16 percent of likely GOP voters saying they’ll turn to Clinton in November. Just under half of the voters with no party preference are Clinton supporters, with 32 percent undecided.
And the other demos are a disaster for Trump:
Among likely Latino voters, he’s losing to Clinton by a staggering 75 percent to 12 percent, worse than the 22 percent Republican Mitt Romney had in a July 2012 Field Poll and the 21 percent the GOP’s John McCain had in the 2008 presidential survey. Among African American voters, Clinton leads by a President Obama-like 87 percent to 3 percent. She also holds a better than 2-to-1 margin over Trump among likely Asian voters.
In 2012, Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney 60/37 in California. Romney won 27% of the Latino vote in that election, four percent of the African-American vote, and for good measure got 39% of the independent vote. Trump’s actually within throwing distance of Romney’s performance in some of these demos, but, um … that only puts him in reach of a 23-point loss. On top of that, while this might be the lowest level of support in recent California polling for Trump, it’s hardly an outlier.
To some extent, this wouldn’t matter at all — if it weren’t for the claims that Trump expects to compete in California. As long as no one at Team Trump takes those seriously and pumps money into the Golden State in a futile attempt to prove themselves right, those are mostly harmless. But seeing how Trump has spent resources in New York, and how the claims are working in the Empire State, California Dreamin’ might not remain harmless.