Reading the results of the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll and reflecting on the news that came out of the state Democratic convention this weekend, you can see the struggle between the party activists and the larger pool of Democratic voters in this progressive state to find the correct nominee for president.
At the convention, liberal candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were hailed as conquering heroes while candidates taking a more moderate line including former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and former Maryland Congressman John Delaney were booed for questioning socialism and big government policies.
Yet, when PPIC asked Democratic voters what they were looking for in a president, the likely voters were generally split but more largely favored a candidate that could likely defeat Donald Trump over a candidate whose positions reflected their own: 47% over 43%.
The numbers were similar when experience and a proven record bested the new ideas approach. Democrats favored experience 49% to 42%. The overall electorate favored experience by 52% to 39%. The significance there is that a candidate with experience and proven record (think Joe Biden) may be able to bring disgruntled Republicans (only 65% of whom in the poll said they would definitely vote for Trump) and Independents into his camp as opposed to the big idea policy changes and different approach offered by a candidate like Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
(An interesting side note: I spoke to a liberal friend from Massachusetts over the weekend who told me that while Sen. Warren was still supported well in her state, 75% did not want her to run for president. California’s Kamala Harris is seeing a like reaction here.)
This internecine battle in the Democratic Party could definitely influence the outcome of the general election. As political cartoonist Ted Rall opined in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, for progressives, “Winning the next election isn’t necessarily more important than the long-term objective of winning over the Democratic Party.”
Other interesting notes from the PPIC poll. When asked how the legislators are doing their job the respondents are resoundingly negative: 34% approve, 53% disapprove.
In a progressive state, a super-super majority of Democrats dominate the legislature and the likely voters don’t like what they’re doing? What gives? Do the voters think the legislators are not progressive enough or that they have gone too far in dictating how the state should be run. Here’s a hint—Independents disapprove of the way the legislature is handling its job by 2 to 1. Maybe they have gone too far.
Another question asked likely voters is if they think the state budget situation, the balance between spending and revenues, is a big problem, somewhat of a problem or no problem. Overall likely voters think the budget’s got problems. 50% say the balance of spending and revenue is a big problem and an additional 31% say it’s somewhat of a problem. That’s 81% who are concerned about spending and revenue.
Do they want more spending and more taxes or less of both? As usual there is a partisan divide with 29% of Democrats saying the balance of spending and revenues is a big problem; compared to 79% of Republicans agreeing with that notion; and 55% of Independents concurring.
But at least the PPIC poll found there was one issue that everyone can agree on: It’s very important to vote in the 2020 election. Likely voters by 95%, all adults by 89%, and even non-registered voters by 81% said it is very important to vote.
Other responses to PPIC poll questions can be found here.