Republicans spent a lot of emotional energy on California in 2010, believing for most of the year that they had a serious chance at winning the races for Senate and Governor. They won't have to deal with false hope followed by disappointment next year- voters in the state strongly dislike all of the leading Republican Presidential candidates and Barack Obama defeats each of them by a wide margin in the state. It's pretty clear 21 months out this time that GOP hopes in California are just about zero.
Obama is popular in the state, although not overwhelmingly so, with 53% of voters approving of his job performance to 41% who disapprove. Usually those kinds of numbers alone wouldn't lead to the sorts of margins he has over the Republican field, which are 15 points over Mike Huckabee at 54-39, 20 points over Mitt Romney at 56-36, 24 points over Newt Gingrich at 58-34, and a whooping 31 points over Sarah Palin at 62-31.
What allows Obama to hold his large leads is the incredible unpopularity of the Republican candidate field. None of the candidates can top a 32% favorability there- that's Mitt Romney who is, relatively speaking, the 'most popular' of the Republican candidates. 46% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of him. After that it's Mike Huckabee at a 29/47 spread, Newt Gingrich at 25/55, and Sarah Palin at 28% rating her favorably and a whooping 67% saying they have a negative opinion of her.
Palin's 31 point deficit in California would be the first time a Republican candidate lost the state by more than 30 points since Alf Landon went down in Franklin D. Roosevelt's first reelection in 1936. It's been a week of potential history making for Palin in our polls. She trailed Obama by 8 points in South Dakota, which would make her the first Republican to lose that state since 1964. She trailed him by 6 points in South Carolina, which would mark the first Democratic win there since 1976. She trailed him by 8 in Arizona, which Democrats have only won once since 1948 and certainly not by that kind of margin. And although she led by a point in Nebraska she'd be perilously close to being the first Republican to lose that state since 1964 even though Democrats haven't come within 15 points of winning statewide since Barry Goldwater.
In the California match ups Obama benefits partly because of a unified Democratic base but also because of an overwhelming advantage with independents and because even Republicans are somewhat hesitant to commit to supporting this crop of candidates. With independents he's up 19 points on Romney, 20 on Huckabee, 31 on Gingrich, and 44 on Palin. And while Obama takes anywhere from 82-90% of the Democratic vote in the four match ups, Huckabee has only 77% of Republicans supporting him and that goes down to 75% for Romney, 71% for Gingrich, and 67% for Palin.
Looks pretty safe to say California will easily remain in the Democratic column next year barring some incredible change in the political landscape.
Full results here