Field Polls Show Shift in California Political Winds

A flurry of new Field Polls in the past week paint a picture of shifting winds in California politics, with new numbers out on Bush’s performance and the performance of Congress, the fortunes of the 2008 presidential candidates, the approval ratings of the governor, how the governor might fare in a hypothetical matchup against Barbara Boxer in 2010, and voter attitudes about the term-limits initative and the expansion of Indian gaming:

  • President Bush’s ratings in the state remain abysmal, with 27% of registered voters approving of his performance, a number that has risen 1% since the last time his performance was polled in August. On average, Bush’s approval numbers have not risen above 40% in the state since the end of 2004. 63% of registered voters think that the country is on the wrong track.
  • Congress is faring even worse than Bush among California voters. 22% of registered voters approve of the job that Congress is doing. The last time that Congress’s approval numbers rose above 40% was in April 2003. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has seen an erosion in her numbers as the policy deadlock between the executive and legislative branches drags on, with only 35% of registered voters approving of her performance, down from 48% in March. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer’s approval numbers are at 51% and 44%.
  • Governor Schwarzenegger’s approval numbers remain high, with 56% of registered voters giving him thumbs up, a number that is higher than the 46% rating that he had when the same question was asked in September 2006. The last time that the governor’s rating was below 40% was in April 2006. On the other hand, only 38% of registered voters approve of the performance of the state legislature. If Schwarzenegger were to run as a candidate for Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat in 2010, when he will be termed out of the governor’s office, he would be in a good position as things stand today, with voters giving him a 44-43% edge over Boxer in a hypothetical matchup. The only regions of the state where Boxer does better than Schwarzenegger in the hypothetical matchup are the Bay Area and Los Angeles County.
  • In the 2008 presidential race, Rudolph Giuliani’s once-large lead over his rivals for the Republican nomination has eroded, with Giuliani now holding a 25-13% over his closest rival, Mitt Romney. Two months ago, Giuliani’s lead over Romney was 35-14%. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s lead over her nearest rival, Barack Obama, continues to be formidable, with 45-20% favoring Clinton over Obama (and John Edwards at a distant 11%).
  • On ballot issues, the support for the legislature-sponsored terms limits initiative, Proposition 93, has declined somewhat, with 49-31% saying that they would vote for the initiative (the margin was 59-30% in August). There has also been a moderate increase in support for the expansion of Indian gaming casinos, with 43-40% saying that they oppose further expansion (the margin was 50-39% in September 2006).

Sources for the polls in question (all from the Field Poll website):

Bush approval rating poll

GOP presidential candidate poll

Democratic presidential candidate poll

Congress/Pelosi poll

Schwarzenegger/Boxer poll

Prop 93/Indian gaming poll