In the race for the Democratic nomination for president, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 49%, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, 47%, are neck and neck among California’s likely Democratic electorate. Clinton does best among likely Democratic primary voters who are 45 years of age or older – regardless of gender, who have already voted by absentee ballot, or who identify as Democrats. Sanders outpaces Clinton among first-time voters, independents, or likely Democratic primary voters, both men and women, who are under the age of 45. Sanders, 49%, and Clinton, 46%, are competitive among likely Democratic primary voters who are Latino.
“We are seeing a familiar pattern in what is the last major pre-convention collision between Clinton and Sanders,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “As throughout the primary season, age is the story in this California tossup. Sanders inspires younger or first-time voters, and Clinton relies upon those who are older or have participated in the past.”
72% of likely Democratic primary voters with a candidate preference say they strongly support their choice of candidate. Among Sanders’ backers, 73% report they will not waver in their commitment to him. 70% of Clinton’s supporters express a similar level of dedication to her.
Among the potential Democratic electorate, which includes all registered Democrats and voters without a party preference who plan to participate in the Democratic primary, Sanders receives 48% to Clinton’s 47%. Two percent volunteer another candidate, and 3% are undecided.
Turning to the general election contest against the presumptive Republican nominee, Clinton and Sanders both outdistance businessman Donald Trump by double digits among registered voters in California. However, Sanders does better against Trump than does Clinton mostly because of Sanders’ strength among independent voters. Sanders leads Trump by 39 points among voters who do not identify with a party compared with Clinton who leads Trump by 16 points among this group.
In California’s open primary for U.S. Senate, among likely voters statewide, the Democratic candidates, Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez, are front-runners over the leading Republican hopefuls. Democrat Harris, 37%, is out in front followed by Sanchez who receives 19%. Republicans Tom Del Beccaro, 8%, Ron Unz, 5%, and Duf Sundheim, 5%, garner single-digit support. Three percent volunteered another candidate, and a notable 24% of likely primary voters are undecided. These voters split evenly when asked if they would lean toward voting for a Democratic or Republican candidate.
Looking at the ballot initiative which would legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, a majority of California registered voters, 55%, support the proposal while 39% oppose it. Support divides along party lines. 65% of Democrats are for legalizing marijuana use while a similar proportion of Republicans, 64%, are against it. 60% of independents support the ballot initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
How does California Governor Jerry Brown fare in the court of public opinion? 54% of California residents, including 77% of likely Democratic primary voters, approve of how Brown is doing his job. 26% of adults statewide disapprove. Even more Californians think highly of President Barack Obama. 61% of California residents, including 88% of likely Democratic primary voters, approve of the president’s job performance. 28% of California adults disapprove of how President Obama is doing his job.