HUFFPOLLSTER: California’s Democratic Primary Looks Closer Than Ever

Hillary Clinton has the edge, but the close primary helps Bernie Sanders justify staying in the race.
Matt McClain/ Melina Mara, The Washington Post via Getty Images

Polls show Hillary Clinton narrowly ahead in the California Democratic primary. “Brexit” polls show a lot of uncertainty about the UK's June 23 referendum on whether to stay in the European Union. And most Americans back overtime eligibility expansion. This is HuffPollster for Monday, June 6, 2016.

POLLS SHOW A CLOSE CONTEST IN CALIFORNIA - Nate Cohn: “The Democratic race will almost certainly be over by the time the California polls close, but in some ways it’s still the most interesting contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders so far. It has easily been the closest contest in a big state, at least in the pre-election polls. And even though it won’t affect the outcome of the race, the stakes are nonetheless real: the chance for Mr. Sanders to continue making his case heading into the convention. Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. Sanders in all the polls. But the polls are close enough that he could win….It’s worth noting that we have the benefit of two of the most reliable polls in the business: the Field Poll and the Los Angeles Times/U.S.C./GQR poll. They show Mrs. Clinton with a two- and a 10-point lead, respectively. The P.P.I.C. poll, which has her up by two points, is also very well regarded. Three more familiar national pollsters have also surveyed the state: NBC/WSJ/Marist, SurveyUSA and CBS/YouGov. All three had solid results in primary seasons and have strong longer-term track records….This does not mean that Mrs. Clinton will win. But a diverse number of higher-quality polls is reason to be somewhat more confident in her edge.” [NYT]

There’s a lot of uncertainty about the Hispanic vote - Nate Silver: "Three recent surveys from highly rated polling Bernie Sanders just 2 points behind Hillary Clinton in California. Clinton is ahead by double digits, however, in other polls, including one that has her up by 18 percentage points. It’s making for another confusing finish in a primary season that has already had plenty of them. And it’s an indication of how little we know about how Hispanic Democrats (and Asian-American Democrats) are voting this year….The Hispanic vote is not monolithic; Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and other groups all vote somewhat differently from one another. Age can matter a lot: Clinton performs well among older Hispanics while Sanders does well among younger ones. The predominantly Spanish-speaking Hispanic population can vote differently from the English-speaking Hispanic population. All of this can make it dangerous to extrapolate results from one state to another. But it also makes it tricky for the polls, which often have small sample sizes for ethnic subgroups and trouble reaching a representative sample of Hispanic voters. To add to the complication, California also has a significant Asian-American population, and we have very little evidence about how Asian-Americans are voting this year...Whatever the outcome, it’s almost certainly too late to help Sanders win the nomination; he’d need to win every remaining state by roughly 35 percentage points to catch up to Clinton in pledged delegates." [538]

BREXIT POLLS ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE - Robert Ford, Will Jennings and Mark Pickup: "One of the major uncertainties with polling for the E.U. referendum has been the big and persistent gap between phone and online polls. Phone polls have tended to show much higher support for the 'Remain' camp (those who support staying in the E.U.), with online polls finding more enthusiasm for 'Leave.' There are many explanations for this gap, but no consensus….The pollsters’ job is even harder than usual because of the one-off nature of the 'Brexit' referendum, which means traditional demographic and political methods are not particularly helpful in predicting voting intentions and adjusting polling samples. In short, the usual baseline of previous election results is not available for pollsters this time — the last referendum on British E.U. membership was in 1975. There has been some recent convergence between phone/online modes, reminiscent of 'herding' (whereby pollsters make design and reporting decisions that cause published estimates to vary less than expected). The official inquiry into failure of the polls at the 2015 general election cited herding as one of the reasons the polls were so wrong. However, despite this convergence on the Brexit vote, a large gap remains, and either one or both of the methods must be wrong." [WashPost]

Pollsters are nervous - Robert Hutton: "Having been burned in last year’s U.K. general election, when they failed to predict that Cameron’s Conservatives would win a majority, many [pollsters] have doubts about the reliability of their work on the referendum. The pound fell last week when ICM published online and telephone polls both showing 'Leave' ahead. It fell further Monday after YouGov put 'Leave' at 45 percent to 41 percent for 'Remain' and TNS had the Brexit camp ahead by 43 percent to 41 percent. A further online ICM poll later in the morning put 'Leave' on 48 percent and 'Remain' on 43 percent. 'It’s hard to think of a more bewildering electoral event,' said Martin Boon, a director at ICM. 'The polls have not really moved, and more phone polls of late with their pro-‘Remain’ tendencies have added to or created the narrative that ‘Remain’ might cruise it. But that could be a false narrative, and for me the only correct thing to continue to say is: I just don’t know how this will go.' [Bloomberg]

AMERICANS SUPPORT OVERTIME ELIGIBILITY EXPANSION - Frank Newport: "Americans agree with the idea of expanding the number of workers eligible for overtime pay, a change recently announced by the U.S. Department of Labor and one favored by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders….Americans also agree with the idea of raising the minimum wage, as they generally have in the more than 70 years Gallup has tested it using different formats and different dollar amounts. The specific proposal tested in the current research is to raise the minimum wage to $20 per hour by the year 2020, agreed to by 56% of Americans. Both Sanders and Clinton have supported the idea of raising the minimum wage, with Sanders endorsing the specific proposal tested here." [Gallup]


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MONDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Another poll indicates that California will be a close race. [CBS]

-Jonathan Bernstein argues that California's "top two" Senate election system is a disaster. [Bloomberg]

-Michael Wines says it's difficult to tell how turnout will be affected by state laws that make voting easier. [NYT]

-Michael Catalani says Chris Christie’s reputation has suffered in New Jersey as a result of supporting Trump. [ABC]

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