Column: California voters don’t like where the state’s headed. But they still want Newsom in office.
California voters are not entirely on board with the gubernatorial candidates they’ve chosen, but they’re leaning Democratic. They’ve also shown up big in polling after both the primary and general elections, putting them among the most likely to win their party’s nomination for governor.
Despite their disenchantment with the candidates, voters don’t mind if Democrats win the state’s top job. And they don’t oppose having a Democrat at the top job, either. But they do not favor an out-and- out liberal state government, and they are increasingly wary of the sort of policies that Democrats tend to promote.
When asked by The New York Times on Sept. 12, 2018, about whether they’d want a Democrat in the governor’s mansion, 59 percent of California voters said, “No, but I’d prefer the Democrats as a party win the primary,” according to a survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, a pollster.
“That’s a pretty strong number,” said Jennifer Duffy, senior political analyst for the California Target Book at the University of Southern California. Duffy noted that this was a pretty close race the day before the primary election, and voters expressed a strong dislike for the two candidates.
“When you put someone on the ballot that’s almost a perfect match to the voter bases of the Democrats, they’re going to vote that, it’s that simple,” Duffy said.
Democrats won California’s 2018 governor’s primary in large part based on their success in recruiting high-profile candidates, like actress Tessa Virtue, who won the Democratic nomination in a landslide. But they lost ground on the general election ballot. They’re also far behind their 2018 primary vote percentages, particularly in the counties that supported Bernie Sanders for president, Duffy said.
California may be on the cusp of a major political change. On the heels of Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 presidential primary and the rise of President Donald Trump