President Donald Trump may be falling behind former vice president Joe Biden with moderate conservative voters in California, according to a poll conducted by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, or IGS.
The poll, conducted virtually in English and Spanish from July 21-27, surveyed a random sample of 8,328 California registered voters. The results found that in California, Biden leads Trump by 39 percentage points, with about 2% margin of error. This is nine points higher than Hillary Clinton’s lead over Trump in 2016.
These results come just three months before November’s presidential election.
According to IGS co-director and campus political science professor Eric Schickler, the poll shows some “slippage” in Trump’s approval rating in the race against Biden.
“Can Trump get any lower or do any worse? It looks like our answer is yes,” Schickler said. “That’s some sign of maybe not a crack in the hardcore base, but maybe some cracks in what had been a relatively solid wall of support.”
While California tends to be a liberal-leaning state, researchers believe Trump’s performance during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement may have led to his further declining popularity in the state.
These shifts in voter attitudes are seen most in more traditionally rural and conservative areas, such as the Central Valley, Inland Empire and parts of Northern California excluding the Bay Area.
“There are parts of the state that look much more like other, more conservative parts of the country,” said Elizabeth Mitchell, graduate student assistant for the poll. “Paying attention to the differences within the state can help us understand better the sources of support for Trump and for Biden in ways that you might not get if you just looked at the overall 39-point margin.”
IGS poll director Mark DiCamillo said this poll serves to “hold up a mirror” to the California electorate, showing people not only where the race stands now, but also how it compares to the past.
Schickler thinks that California, as the most populated state in the country, could signal the future of the United States. While not every state leans quite as liberal, Schickler said states such as Arizona and Colorado may show similarities over time.
“Seeing what’s going on in California, in some ways at least, could be interpreted as a kind of warning for Republicans,” Schickler said. “You really are just … in a state that you know other states are going to look more like over time, even if they don’t get to quite the same point.”
According to Schickler, the IGS intends to conduct two more polls before the national election on ballot propositions and the presidential race.