Latest California Presidential Voting Intention
(9 August)

August 14, 2020
R&WS Research Team
California | US Politics | US Presidential Election 2020 | Vote by Mail | Voting Intention

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California has voted for the Democratic candidate in every Presidential Election since 2000. In 2016, Hilary Clinton received 61.7% of the vote compared to Trump’s 31.6%, which was the largest winning margin for a presidential candidate in California since 1936. At this stage, Joe Biden is on track to eclipse Clinton’s margin of victory.

Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest poll in California finds Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump with a 36% lead. Among those who have decided who they will vote for, 61% will vote for the presumptive Democratic nominee. Only 25% of Californians say they will vote for the incumbent President.

Although Trump’s base in California remains relatively stable, a significant minority (11%) of Californians who voted for the President in 2016 now intend to vote for Biden. In contrast, just 2% of Clinton supporters say they will vote for Trump. Biden is also polling particularly well among those who did not vote in 2016. Overall, 79% of non-voters from 2016 who intend to vote during the 2020 cycle believe that they will vote for Biden. Just 15% of non-voters from 2016 will vote for Trump in November.

Support for Biden is strong throughout California’s diverse geographies – a majority of voters in all ten US census regions of the California census say they intend to vote for Biden. Biden also leads Trump across all age brackets. Notably, less than a third (32%) of older voters aged 65+ intend to vote for Trump, while 64% state they will vote for Biden.

In 2016, 75.3% of California’s registered voters, or 58.7% of all eligible adults, voted in the Presidential Election. At this stage, 70% of those polled are certain to vote in November, while a further 11% consider that they will ‘probably vote’ and 5% are leaning towards voting.

In March, Californian authorities announced the second highest turnout for a primary in the last four decades. Although increased turnout may have been partly due to changes in the timing of the primary vote, it is clear that the Californian public is firmly engaged in the political process during the 2020 cycle.

A large proportion of California’s voters have historically made use of mail-in ballots: 57.79% of all ballots cast in California in the 2016 election cycle were mail-in. The prevalence of mail-in ballot usage will be even greater due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as Governor Gavin Newsom’s issuance of an Executive Order requiring that a mail-in ballot be mailed to each voter prior to the November 3rd election.

Overall, almost two thirds (64%) of Californian voters intend to vote by mail (absentee ballot). Less than a fifth (19%) say they are most likely to vote in person on election day, while an additional tenth (10%) think they will vote in person, but prior to election day.

As we found in our recent polling in six key swing states, those who intend to vote for Trump are substantially more likely to vote in person on election day. Nevertheless, in-person voting will in California among Trump voters still be limited – just a third (33%) believe they will vote in person, while only 15% of Biden voters in California think they will visit the ballot box on November 3rd. In California, almost three quarters (72%) of Biden voters will utilise the mail-in method, in comparison to around half (47%) of those supporting Trump’s re-election bid. Therefore, while Biden looks certain to win comfortably among voters who use absentee ballot, it is seems that results from in-person voting in California will be much closer.

Governor Gavin Newsom has taken actions to ensure that Californians continue to have the option to vote in person, yet has actively encouraged citizens to vote via mail-in ballots if possible. Public opinion on conducting the election exclusively via mail-in voting is clearly influenced by political allegiance. A strong majority (76%) of respondents who intend to vote for Biden in the Presidential Election support this proposal, while a plurality (45%) of likely Trump voters oppose this measure. Overall, 62% of Californians would support the election being conducted solely via mail-in voting, while less than a fifth (18%) would actively oppose this idea.

The United States Postal Service has recently overhauled its organizational structure at the initiation of Trump’s newly appointed Postmaster General. Democrats have argued that the changes in structure may pose a threat to mail-in ballots arriving in a timely fashion in November, yet Republicans claim the changes will increase efficiency by reducing costs. An overwhelming majority (69%) of Californians consider that the United States Postal Service is currently reliable and can be trusted to deliver all election ballots quickly and to the correct destination.

Although Trump himself has questioned the ability of the USPS to handle mail-in ballots, a majority (52%) of his likely voters in California consider that USPS is reliable. Moreover, a majority of all age groups and regions in the state share the view that USPS can be trusted with their responsibilities vis-à-vis mail election ballots.

Recent polling completed by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, both in the swing-states and nationwide, has provided evidence that Joe Biden is firmly in the lead in the race for the Presidency. Nevertheless, less than half (47%) of Californians believe that Biden is more likely to win the 2020 Presidential Election. Around a quarter (23%) consider that Donald Trump is more likely to win re-election to the White House. 30% of Californians think that Joe Biden and Donald Trump are equally likely to win (14%) or don’t know (16%).

Although many Californians remain uncertain on what they believe will be the outcome in November, a clear plurality consider that Biden is more likely to win at this stage. In contrast, in the swing-states of Arizona and North Carolina, a plurality think Donald Trump is more likely to win, while the proportion of voters who believe Biden will win across the other four swing-states is lower than in California. Overall, Californians are more optimistic about a Biden victory than in many parts of the USA.

Altogether, former Vice President Joe Biden looks set to win a decisive victory in California in November, gaining 55 votes in the Electoral College. Turnout levels look likely to remain stable, despite the exceptional circumstances of the vote. Californians are likely to vote using mail-in ballots and trust USPS to effectively manage the process. Despite the strength of support for Biden in California, the public in the state remains relatively uncertain about the outcome of the November election at this stage.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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