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Poll: Romney leads GOP pack in California

By Josh Richman
Thursday, November 17th, 2011 at 4:22 pm in 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, Obama presidency, polls.

Mitt Romney has a small but solid lead in California among Republican presidential candidates, according to a new poll from the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Times.

The former Massachusetts governor has support from 27 percent of registered Republicans in the state, followed by Herman Cain with 20 percent, Newt Gingrich with 14 percent and Ron Paul with 6 percent.

“What has remained unchanged for the better part of the year is that Romney maintains support from roughly a quarter of Republican primary voters in California,” Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and director of USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics, said in a news release. “The only thing that has changed is the identity of his chief opponent.”

But Romney is still trying to consolidate his support among conservatives; 22 percent of GOP voters are still undecided. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, once near the top of the polls, now has only 3 percent support in the Golden State. But among self-identified Tea Party supporters in California, Cain holds three-percentage-point lead over Romney, 29 percent to 26 percent.

Meanwhile, the poll also found 50 percent of California voters approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance, the same as in September; 42 percent disapprove. The president’s numbers are buoyed by 81 percent approval from black voters and 64 percent approval from Latino voters.

“Make no mistake about it, African American and Hispanic voters are President Obama’s political lifeline in California. More likely than not, their overwhelming support for his re-election is probably going to make this state less than competitive in November 2012,” Schnur said.

Asked whether they would vote for Obama or Romney in a hypothetical match-up, 52 percent of California voters picked Obama while 35 percent picked Romney. In other match-ups, Obama led Cain 54 percent to 31 percent and led Perry 55 percent to 31 percent. “Californians are not particularly enthused about the president’s job performance or his re-election campaign, but what makes him a solid bet for winning California in next year’s general election is that most voters don’t see the Republican party as a viable alternative,” Schnur said.

And the poll shows 47 percent of California voters favor the Occupy Wall Street movement while 33 percent oppose it. Asked if they agree or disagree with what the movement is saying about the country, 48 percent said that they agree and 29 percent said that they disagree. Along party lines, 62 percent of registered Democrats agree with the statement and 15 percent disagree, while 21 percent of registered Republicans agreed and 55 percent disagreed.

The poll found 35 percent of Californians consider themselves supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement and 27 percent consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party movement.

“Both represent roughly one-third of their respective parties: the Occupy Wall Street movement for the Democrats and the Tea Party movement for Republicans. So both movements have some ability to have an impact on the direction their party’s nominee takes next fall not only in a presidential campaign, but in a congressional race as well,” Schnur said. “However, neither will determine the party nominee or policy agenda a nominee takes into a general election.”

The poll was conducted Oct. 30 through Nov. 9, surveying 1,500 California registered voters. The poll’s margin of error is 2.52 percentage points.

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