Meet Our Leading Ladies…
The latest big surprise in California politics is that Democratic Party membership in Orange County topped Republican Party membership for the first time in living memory for most of us. Proving? That donkeys can fly and the political climate is changing along with the weather in California’s mighty fortress of ultra-conservatism—changing dramatically. How else explain the 2018 election in which all six of the county’s Congressional districts went blue?
A harbinger of that shocking shift showed itself in the 2016 presidential contest when Hilary Clinton edged Donald Trump by 102,813 votes. Zounds! That was the first time a Democrat won Orange County in a presidential election since Franklin Delano Roosevelt defeated Alf Landon during the Depression days of 1936. Wow! That’s a long wait. So what’s going on? Are there major changes in the zeitgeist of what I use to consider our state’s smug Babbitt hutch? To find out I decided to do some political polling myself and compare the results with professional pollsters, using this year’s Democratic Party’s primary race for its 2020 nominee.
Yes, yes, I know the limitations of early polls and have listened to the wise counsel not to take them too seriously... that they capture but a brief moment in time…that they all have their own margins of error…that some are for public consumption and others for the private use of the sponsoring political party…that even in this age of refined analytics, there is always the occasional outlier—the poll that somehow drifts into the twilight zone.
I have heard all these caveats and more, and yet I will proceed in my three-way comparison in which I compare National Sentiment, where I take the last ten national polls* and average them out. Compare that with California Sentiment, from the KGTV-TV/SurveyUSA poll of the state taken on August 8. Compare both with Orange County Sentiment, specifically of the Huntington Beach Chapter of Drinking Liberally, a politically active group that, not surprisingly, leans to the left of the Democratic Party. Here are the results:
My overall, hesitant conclusions? Even Orange County, the most conservative redoubt in the Golden State, is loosening up, joining the progressive rest of California, leaving Trump worship behind to the benighted folks in Southern and Midwestern climes.
Some real, specific surprises here. Warren is surging out west, the more so in our sample of Orange County voters. And note who’s second there…not explained completely by Harris being a native daughter. At the very least, the results show that Golden Staters have no reservations about having a woman head the Democratic ticket in 2020.
Perhaps the most significant surprise is Bernie’s diminished appeal, both nationally in his numbers now compared to those of 2016, but most tellingly in the Orange County results; the flame seems to have passed on to members of another gender.
Texans have little support west of the West—that is to say, Calfornia—if O’Rourke’s numbers tell the truth. And the mentally formidable Buttigieg’s numbers flag in our open-minded Golden State. What gives? The same might be asked of the polished Julian Castro’s disappointing showing.
OK, you want to trash my tyro’s try at polling. Yes, I admit my OC sample size is small, and I am new to polling. Add, as well, that not much can be made of any political poll this far off from the event being tested.
Still, could these be straws in the wind of an approaching, cleansing tornado? The answer might well determine whether the last and best hope for democracy survives.
*Methodology: I averaged the ten most recent national polls for the Democratic nomination for president moving from the most recent in August back to the beginning of the month. I considered the Fox News poll of August 16; the HarrisX poll of August 15; the Economist poll of August 14; the Politico/Morning Consult poll of August 13; the Survey USA poll of August 9; the You Gov poll of August 7; the, Quinnipiac, the Politico/Morning Consult and the IBD/YIPP polls of August 7.