Field Poll shows Schwarzenegger leading Angelides by 8 points
By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field
July 25, 2006
The latest statewide Field Poll updates voter preferences in
the November gubernatorial election. Among the survey's main findings
- Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger continues to lead
Democratic State Treasurer Phil Angelides in voter preferences.
The survey shows Schwarzenegger to be the choice of 45% of likely
voters. Angelides receives 37% support, 3% favor other candidates
and 15% are undecided.
- Republicans are rallying strongly behind Schwarzenegger, with
85% supporting the Governor. On the other hand, Angelides has
not yet achieved the high level of support that successful Democratic
candidates typically receive among their party's rank-and-file,
with less than two in three (63%) currently backing his candidacy.
- Most voters are basing their voting preferences on how they
regard Schwarzenegger. About two thirds of Schwarzenegger's voters
(65%) say their vote is more an endorsement of the Governor than
a vote against Angelides. On the other hand, two-thirds of Angelides
voters (65%) say their preference is more a vote against the Governor
than an endorsement of Angelides.
- The issue of immigration, followed by taxes, are the issues
most important to Schwarzenegger's backers in deciding whom they
will support for Governor. By contrast, the issues most important
to Angelides backers are education and health care.
- For the first time since February of last year, more voters
(49%) approve of Schwarzenegger's job performance than disapprove
(40%). In addition, voter impressions of the direction the state
is heading have become more positive than negative for the first
time since September 2004.
Schwarzenegger holding the lead
Throughout the summer and fall of last year, Schwarzenegger trailed
Angelides in voter preference. However, by February of this year
the Governor drew even with Angelides and, beginning in April,
took a small lead. Now he is eight points ahead (45% to 37%) of
the State Treasurer. Three percent of voters prefer other candidates
and 15% are undecided.
Differences in how voter sub-groups are dividing
Schwarzenegger is the overwhelming choice of registered Republicans
in this state, capturing almost 85% of their preferences.
By contrast, Angelides, who narrowly won a bitterly fought Democratic
primary election against State Controller Steve Westly, has not
yet rallied a high level of support from his own party members.
A little less than two in three of Democrats (63%) are currently
supporting the State Treasurer, while 16% prefer the Governor,
2% favor other candidates and a sizeable 19% are undecided.
Schwarzenegger holds a 9-point lead (49% to 40%) in the Central
Valley and maintains a huge preference margin (61% to 27%) among
voters in Southern California outside of Los Angeles County.
Angelides leads the Governor by 10 points in the San Francisco
Bay Area (44% to 34%) and by 11 points in Los Angeles County (44%
Women are about evenly dividing their preferences and give the
Governor a narrow two percent advantage, whereas men prefer Schwarzenegger
by 13 points.
White non-Hispanics are lining up heavily for Schwarzenegger
52% to 32%. By contrast, Latinos heavily prefer Angelides (58%
to 22%), while other ethnic voters support the Democrat by a 43%
to 32% margin.
There are big differences in voter preferences by age. Voters
in the 18 to 44 year age bracket prefer Angelides 46% to 34%.
However, those voters 45 to 54 are lining up on the side of the
Governor, 46% to 40%. Those age 55-64 back Schwarzenegger 51%
to 30%, while voters in the 65 and older age group support the
Governor by a greater than two to one margin (56% to 26%).
Voters living in union households, who account for about 25%
of the likely voters in this survey, prefer Angelides by a 45%
to 41% margin. However, among the non-union households representing
75% of the likely electorate, Schwarzenegger is preferred 46%
Voter choices at this stage are mainly about Schwarzenegger
Two thirds of those supporting Schwarzenegger (65%) say their
preference is more a vote for the Governor than a vote against
Angelides. However, the situation is reversed in the case of Angelides,
with 65% of his supporters saying their preference is more a vote
against Schwarzenegger than a vote for Angelides.
Almost three times as many expect Schwarzenegger to win as
believe Angelides will win
Apart from whom voters personally prefer, greater than six in
ten of the state's electorate (61%) think the Governor will be
re-elected, while just 24% expect Angelides to prevail. Voters
currently supporting Schwarzenegger are very confident, with 86%
expecting their man to win and just 4% thinking Angelides will
win. By contrast, one in three (33%) of those supporting the Democrat
think he will lose to the Governor, while 49% think Angelides
will win. Undecided voters as well as those supporting other candidates
also believe Schwarzenegger will win re-election by a 54% to 21%
Voter impressions of the candidates are more positive than
Last October, just before the special election called by the
Governor to enact a series of reforms which the voters ultimately
rejected, Schwarzenegger's standing with voters was much more
negative than positive, with 54% viewing him unfavorably and 38%
holding a favorable view. In two subsequent Field Poll surveys
taken earlier this year, voter perceptions of the Governor became
somewhat less critical, with opinions more evenly divided. Now,
for the first time since February of last year, more voters view
the Governor in a favorable than unfavorable light (51% to 44%).
Last May, immediately prior to the June election, a relatively
large proportion of voters (39%) did not have an opinion of Angelides.
Among those who had an impression of the State Treasurer, opinions
were more unfavorable than favorable (34% to 27%). Now, following
his primary election win, greater than three in four voters have
an opinion of Angelides, and more voters regard him in a favorable
than unfavorable light (41% to 38%). One in five (21%) currently
has no opinion of the State Treasurer.
Relative importance of eight issues in the governor's race
Likely voters in this survey were asked how important they felt
each of eight specific issues were to them in making up their
minds about whom they will support for governor. Voters were asked
to say whether an issue was among the most important, an important
issue but not among the most important, or not important.
While each of the eight issues is seen as having some degree
of importance to large majorities of voters overall, two issues
- illegal immigration (at 44%) and education (at 43%) - are rated
as among the most important by the largest proportions of voters.
Four other issues - health care (36%), jobs/economy (36%), gasoline
prices/energy (32%) and taxes (31%) - receive the next highest
proportions. Somewhat smaller proportions of voters rate environmental
protection and crime/prisons, at 26% and 24% respectively, as
being among the most important.
Each candidate's supporters rate the issues differently
There are considerable differences in the way supporters of Schwarzenegger
and Angelides rate the importance of these eight issues.
A majority (56%) of those supporting Schwarzenegger considers
immigration as among the most important issues in deciding whom
they will support in the general election. The issue of taxes
receives the next highest proportion (40%) saying it is among
the most important issues among voters backing Schwarzenegger.
By contrast, the issue priorities of Angelides supporters are
quite different. Two issues - education and health care - are
rated by larger proportions of these voters as being among the
most important issues to them when deciding whom they will support
for governor. Among undecided voters, education stands out as
the issue which a majority considers among the most important
in the upcoming gubernatorial election.
Schwarzenegger's job performance now viewed positively
For the first time since February 2005, more voters now say they
approve (49%) than disapprove (40%) of Schwarzenegger's job performance.
In six prior Field Poll surveys conducted between June 2005 and
May 2006, pluralities of voters ranging from five to nineteen
points had registered disapproval of Schwarzenegger.
Opinions of the governor's job performance are highly partisan.
Republicans give him an overwhelmingly positive rating (80% to
15%), while Democrats are more than two to one negative (60% to
26%) in their appraisals. Non-partisans are more positive than
negative of Schwarzenegger's performance by a 46% to 38% margin.
Perceptions of the state's overall direction improve
In another significant change in voter mood, 47% now think the
state is headed in the right direction while 41% believe it is
on the wrong track. In seven prior surveys conducted between February
2005 and May 2006, substantial majorities of voters were more
pessimistic than optimistic in their feelings about the direction
of the state.
Republicans are considerably more confident that the state is
now on the right track than either Democrats or non-partisans.
Among Republicans 63% believe the state is moving in the right
direction, whereas among Democrats and non-partisans just 40%
and 35%, respectively, feel this way.
The findings in this report are based on a random sample survey
of 992 Californians registered to vote, of whom 731 can be considered
likely voters in the November 7 general election. Interviewing
was conducted by telephone in English and Spanish between the
period July 10-23, 2006.