Sunday, July 6, 2008

McCain targets California?

Rick Davis, the campaign manager of John McCain, has said that he believes his candidate can win California. They're even opening up a headquarters in the Golden State.

Is this serious, or perhaps just a ploy to force Barack Obama to waste resources in California?

Yes, we have a Republican governor here but he happens to be a major Hollywood celebrity, and celebrities routinely transcend normal electoral equations. McCain, though, is no celebrity.

Besides Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, every statewide executive office is held by a Democrat. The Republicans only hold a few district-wide seats on the Board of Equalization. Both the State Assembly and State Senate are ruled by Democrats.

The congressional delegation is dominated by Democrats including both U.S. Senators -- Dianne Feinsten and Barbara Boxer. The state's cities are mainly run by Democrats.

Barack enjoys wide double digit leads in the polls.

California: McCain vs. Obama

Polling Data

PollDateSampleObama (D)McCain (R)Spread
RCP Average05/12 - 06/23--52.836.6Obama +16.2
Rasmussen06/23 - 06/23500 LV5830Obama +28.0
SurveyUSA06/17 - 06/19503 LV5341Obama +12.0
Field05/16 - 05/27914 LV5235Obama +17.0
LA Times/KTLA05/20 - 05/21705 RV4740Obama +7.0
PPIC05/12 - 05/181086 LV5437Obama +17.0

See All California: McCain vs. Obama Polling Data

McCain has not won any polls against Obama in California and has always lost well above the margin of error.

The only thing I can think of is that McCain's handlers may think that Californians will say one thing in the opinion surveys and do another thing in the privacy of the voting booth -- when the candidate is black.

This idea originates from the gubenatorial bids of Tom Bradley more than two decades ago. Bradley would lead in the polls but then on election day would end up coming up short. The conclusion of many pundits was that white voters could not 'close the deal' with a black candidate in such a high office.

A lot of things have changed though since that time. For example, the state is much more liberal now, comparable to the days of Gov. Jerry Brown. The Latino and Asian Pacific Islander votes are much more important than they were when Bradley was running.

Indeed, Davies does mention the Latino vote when discussing McCain's California strategy. He thinks that the Arizona senator's record on immigration reform and his proximity to southern California can help him win over the state's Latinos.

I think its a tall order though. Again, if we ignore the understandable Arnold exception, no statewide Republican has been able to woo Latinos in the big races. The API vote is also pretty solidly Democrat now as compared to just a decade ago.

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