Hillary Clinton
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

The latest Field Poll out of California shows something that might be a little disconcerting to Democrats. The headlines about the poll all read that Clinton is crushing Trump in the Golden State, and that’s true. The poll finds that Clinton is beating Trump by an eye-popping 58%-28% margin, with 14% undecided. That hints at a much worse spanking than Mitt Romney (38.3%) received from President Obama (59.63%) in 2012. It suggests that Clinton is on track (when undecideds are allocated) to outperform the 61%-37% smackdown that Obama administered to John McCain in 2008.

But is she?

When the Field Poll tested a three-way race including Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, the 14% undecided vote did not move an inch. What happened was that Trump’s support dropped by two points to 26% and Clinton’s support dropped eight points to fifty percent.


Part of the explanation might be found here:

Trump is also drawing an unusually low level of support from voters outside the Republican Party, polling in single digits among Democrats and at 20 percent or below among independent voters.

“I think Trump supporters in California appear to be pretty hard-core supporters,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll. “But they’re down to a relatively small number, and that’s really his problem.”

In California, at least, Trump is testing the Crazification Factor again, straddling that magic 27% Alan Keyes Constant. This, not 40%, is probably Trump’s absolute floor. He’s so low already that there are hardly any more votes to peel off, so if you add more options to the mix, most of the support they’ll get is from people who’d otherwise vote for Clinton.

Clinton and the Democrats don’t need to care about this too much in a state where they have a thirty-point lead over Trump, but nationally they don’t want all of Gary Johnson’s support to come out of her hide. They already know that pretty much all of Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s support will be at her expense.

California may be a special case, I don’t know. In battleground states, it could be that more disaffected Republicans and right-leaning undecideds will come around to voting for Gary Johnson. But the results of this one poll out of California are at least a warning that this cannot just be assumed.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com