TPM Reader DM looks beneath the numbers on the top races out in California …
If you look at the PPIC polls as well as the LA Times polls, the simple answer is that CA is continuing it Democratic voting pattern started after 1994 when Pete Wilson made the Republican Party an anathema in order to defeat Kathleen Brown (sister of Jerry). Pete Wilson made CA reliably Democratic, and the Republican Neanderthals continued their efforts to purge that Party of moderate voters. No moderate can get a Republican nomination these days except in a few local races. Remember, Arnold did not get a Republican nomination until he was running for re-election. The latest PPIC poll showed a clear trend towards a traditional Democratic CA result. The subsequent LA Times poll (and, yes, there are problems of comparing polls by different pollsters) showed the continuation of the trend in the PPIC poll.
What I call the geography of voting is the key. For a Republican to have a chance tow in statewide in CA, she/he must carry the Central Valley by at least 10 points. [PPIC showed a dead heat in the Central Valley, and LA Times showed Brown pulling away there with Boxer two points behind there.] It is increasingly difficult for a Republican to win the Central Valley by 10 points or more because Pete Wilson started a massive Latino voter registration drive that continues to this day. While the focus in CA has been on immigration and the Latino vote–and I agree it is a make or break issue in that community–it is not the only issue of importance to Latinos.
PPIC has been doing an annual poll on environmental issues for at least 20 years. It has a massive sample size to regional and demographic sub groupings are statistically reliable–i.e., the margin of error is acceptable. I first noticed about sixteen years ago that the most environmentally concerned group in CA was not white, suburban women but was the Latino community—and by a significant margin! This pattern continues to this day. The Latino concern is about air and water pollution. In recent years (last 10 or so) in the PPIC poll Latinos in the Central Valley were more concerned about air pollution than LA County or any of the subgroups in LA County. This is not a one year aberration. Another significant Latino issue is education.
Now jobs and the economy are first in CA and elsewhere, but among Latinos in CA, Whitman (and Fiorina) is on the wrong side of immigration and the environment. In the LA Times poll, Brown is pulling away in the Central Valley and Boxer is only two points behind. LA Times also showed the Latino vote going overwhelmingly Democratic. [I must note that PPIC does not push leaners or report leaners; one is either for A or B or undecided.]
Whitman has shown herself to be all over the map on immigration and supported killing the CA climate change law before she switched. Latinos have obviously decided she cannot be trusted. Fiorina has similar Latino problems.
Now that it appears that CA is reverting to its heavily Democratic form, the question remains as to how it will impact down ballot races. Given that the $160 million (and counting) Whitman has spent has got her to where any “credible” Republican gets in CA, I am going to suggest that CA down ballot Democrats will do ok.