Angelides and Westly
in statistical dead heat
By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field
June 2, 2006
Coming down to the closing days of the intensely bitter battle
for the Democratic nominee in this year's gubernatorial election,
only a statistically insignificant one percentage point margin
separates state Controller Steve Westly and state Treasurer Phil
Angelides in voter preferences.
In its sixth and final primary election preference measure conducted
over the past twelve months, The Field Poll finds Westly to be
the choice of 35% of likely Democratic primary voters, Angelides
receives 34% support, while 5% are preferring other candidates.
Apart from the virtually even division of support for the two
candidates is the remarkable fact that greater than one in four
- 26% - of voters who maintain that they are likely to cast a
ballot are still undecided. During the sixty-year history of The
Field Poll there never has been as large a proportion of voters
undecided so close to the election in a top-of-the-ticket major
In three Field Poll surveys taken in 2005, voter preferences
in the initial stages of the gubernatorial campaign were relatively
stable, with about six in ten voters able to offer a preference
and Angelides holding the advantage with an average lead of about
ten points over Westly.
As voter awareness of the election grew in early 2006, the proportion
of undecided voters soared to 54% in February, with Angelides
still holding on to an eight-point lead.
However, following the launching of a very sizeable and generally
positive wave of initial television advertising introducing the
candidates to the electorate, an early April Field Poll detected
a big turn-around in voter preferences, with Westly vaulting into
the lead over Angelides, 37% to 26%.
Now, as the campaigning has moved into its final stages, and
with an increasing barrage of mostly negative television advertising
about the opposing candidate, the two are in a virtual tie, with
Westly holding a statistically insignificant one percentage point
lead over Angelides (35% to 34%).
Demographic subgroup analysis
There are some clear patterns in voter support for Westly and
Angelides across some subgroups of the likely Democratic primary
electorate. For example, Angelides holds a solid 45% to 27% lead
among voters living in households in which a union member resides.
By contrast, Westly leads 37% to 29% among non-union households.
Angelides is also preferred by eight points among likely Democratic
primary voters who describe themselves as liberal in politics,
while Westly leads among moderates by seven points and among the
relatively small sample of conservative voters in the Democratic
primary by ten points.
In addition, Angelides appears to hold a small advantage among
voters who either already have or intend to cast their votes via
absentee ballot, while Westly has a small lead among those intending
to vote at their precinct polling place on Election Day.
Schwarzenegger vs. Democrats in general election trial heats
The closeness of the Democratic nomination race is also mirrored
in the division of voting preferences among the overall electorate,
when incumbent Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is matched against
either Westly or Angelides in possible general election match-ups.
In a hypothetical Schwarzenegger vs. Westly fall pairing, the
Governor holds a slim two-point lead (44% to 42%) over Westly.
In a Schwarzenegger - Angelides pairing, the Governor's lead is
seven points, 46% to 39%.
In both cases large partisan differences are evident, with Democrats
favoring each of their party's nominee by roughly four to one
margins, while Republicans favor Schwarzenegger by margins of
seven or eight to one. Non-partisans appear to give the Governor
his slim lead against both Democrats, as they favor Schwarzenegger
by two points against Westly and eight points against Angelides.
Image ratings of the candidates
There have been a number of changes in voter appraisals of the
major party candidates for governor over the past three months.
For example, in February more voters held an unfavorable (49%)
than favorable (44%) view of Schwarzenegger. Now, voters are evenly
divided, with 46% viewing the Governor favorably and 46% unfavorably.
Most of this shift is due to a somewhat more favorable impression
of the Governor among non-partisan voters.
Three months ago voter impressions of Democrats Westly and Angelides
were largely unformed, which greater than six in ten voters having
no opinion of either. Now, majorities are able to offer an opinion
of the two Democrats. In Westly's case, more voters (30%) hold
a favorable view than an unfavorable view (24%). However, the
reverse is true of Angelides, with those holding a negative impression
outnumbering those with a positive assessment 34% to 27%.
Both Democrats are viewed quite positively among rank-and-file
Democratic voters, but both also hold a largely negative image
among Republicans. The biggest difference between the two relates
to each Democrat's image among non-partisans. Among this pivotal
group, Westly is rated positively 28% to 18%, while Angelides
is viewed negatively 33% to 24%.
Information About The Survey
The findings in this report are based on a random sample survey
of California likely voters. Interviewing was conducted by telephone
in English and Spanish between the period May 23-31, 2006. In
the main survey, total of 1,545 California adults were reached
and screened, of whom 702 reported being likely to vote in the
November general election, and 351 said they were likely to vote
in the Democratic primary.
Telephone households were sampled using a random digit dial methodology,
which randomly selects operating landline telephone exchanges
within all area codes serving California households in proportion
to population. Within each exchange, random samples of telephone
numbers were created by adding random digits to each selected
telephone exchange. This method gives each phone listing an equal
chance of being selected and permits access to all landline telephone
numbers both listed and unlisted.
To increase the precision of the poll's estimates in the upcoming
June 6 Democratic primary, an additional 150 voters likely to
vote in the Democratic primary were interviewed in a separate
augmented sample, bringing the total Democratic primary likely
voter sample to 501. These additional voters were randomly sampled
from a statewide list of registered voters who were then screened
for their likely participation in the Democratic primary.
Results from both the main sample and the augmented sample were
weighted to conform to Field Poll estimates of the state's registered
According to statistical theory, 95% of the time results from
the overall sample of likely voters in the general election have
a sampling error of +/- 3.8 percentage points, while results from
the combined Democratic primary sample of likely voters have a
sampling error of +/- 4.5 percentage points. There are other possible
sources of error in any survey other than sampling variability.
Different results could occur because of differences in question
wording, sampling, the sequencing of questions, or through undetected
omissions or errors in interviewing or data processing. Extensive
efforts were made to minimize such potential errors.
ASKED OF LIKELY VOTERS IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY:
Two of the candidates in the June Democratic primary election
for Governor are (NAMES AND TITLES OF CANDIDATES READ IN RANDOM
ORDER). If the election were being held today, for whom would
you vote for Governor? ASKED OF LIKELY VOTERS IN NOVEMBER GENERAL
I am going to read the names of some of the candidates for Governor
this year. As I read each name, please tell me whether your opinion
of that person is favorable, unfavorable or whether you don't
know enough about that person to have an opinion. (NAMES AND TITLES
READ IN RANDOM ORDER) Is your opinion of __________ favorable
I am going to read some possible match-ups between the leading
Democratic and Republican candidates for Governor in this year's
November general election. For each pairing, please tell me which
candidate you would vote for if the election for Governor were
being held today. (PAIRS READ IN RANDOM ORDER) If these were the
candidates for Governor in the November general election, for
whom would you vote if the election were being held today?