May 27, 2016
The result won’t change the result. As she and her campaign are fond of pointing out, Hillary will have enough delegates with or without a win in California. Unless the Justice Department says otherwise, she’s the Democratic nominee for 2016, preparing to do battle with The Donald this fall. Game. Set. Match.
That doesn’t mean Bernie wouldn’t really like to win California, or that it wouldn’t serve as a clear rebuke to the presumptive nominee. Until the recent release of a poll from PPIC, it appeared Hillary had this. A KABC/SurveyUSA survey taken last week/weekend had her ahead by a commanding 57/39.
We don’t have the range of polling we would if the nomination race was more in question, but the SurveyUSA data matched their findings from late April. A full look at the numbers over the past several months shows Hillary has led each and every survey. PPIC has her up by 2 now. Fox News had Hillary leading by 2 a month ago. Those are the two closest results.
SurveyUSA consistently shows a large lead, while other pollsters had the gap around ten. Overall, we’ve seen little movement. This is consistent with the actual results in the rest of the country. The candidates are winning the states you would have figured they would based on what we saw in the first several contests.
Momentum is fleeting at best and demographics and type of election win out over everything else. In this case, we have a partially open primary. Nonaffiliated voters can participate on either side, but registered Republicans, Libertarians, or anything else cannot vote in the Democratic primary. This eliminates the possibility of mischievous Republicans deciding to make life difficult for Hillary by supporting Bernie.
Sanders does best against his polling numbers in caucuses. He does next best in completely open primaries. Neither apply here. He virtually never beats his numbers in fully closed primaries. In a semi-open contest, we should figure he might wind up a little ahead, but shouldn’t suspect a major shift.
If PPIC and Fox are correct, he’s within striking range. If everyone else is more accurate, he’s not. Both of the recent surveys were completed on 5/22, meaning voters were not aware of the State Department report that confirmed she was effectively lying about having approval for her private email server.
There’s no indication pro-Hillary Democrats are troubled enough by this to withhold support. If Sanders manages to win in California, it could indicate this is more of an issue than we’ve figured. That would leave Democrats in the unenviable position of having a candidate their voters aren’t comfortable enough with, but little justification to pull the nomination from the candidate with more earned delegates, popular votes, etc.
Until we see another survey to the contrary, Hillary is still the favorite in California. However, there are 10 days left and opinions may change. Keep your eyes open for movement with a pollster who has already surveyed the state. If SurveyUSA shows something closer to 10 points, or if Fox has Bernie ahead instead of close.