In less than two weeks, California voters will not only be casting their coveted vote for president, but will also be choosing their next senator.
Incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein, a popular figure in California since her days as San Franciscos mayor, commands a strong lead over her Republican opponent, Tom Campbell, whose main obstacle even this close to the election is that voters remain unfamiliar with him as a candidate. The Senatorial Horserace
According to the latest Los Angeles Times poll, conducted from October 19th through October 23rd, Feinstein holds a sturdy 25 point lead over Campbell among likely voters:
60% plan to vote for Feinstein
35% say they will vote for Campbell
Four percent of likely voters said they were undecided at the time of the poll.
Feinsteins success stems from her popularity not just with the typical Democratic base (92% of whom are supporting the Senator), but also from moderate and independent voters, vast majorities of whom plan on voting for her. In fact, even 26% of self-identified conservatives and one out of every five Republicans say they will vote for Feinstein in the upcoming election.
These two groups Republicans and conservatives are the only demographic groups other than married men who are not planning on re-electing their senator.
In comparison, just 7% of Democrats and 5% of self-identified liberals say they will vote for Campbell.
Feinstein, one of only nine female senators, does extremely well with women voters, two-thirds of whom say they will vote for her on election day. Even married women, who typically lean more Republican than their single counterparts, overwhelmingly support Feinstein:
63% of married women plan to vote for Feinstein (32% Campbell)
77% of single women plan to vote for Feinstein (20% Campbell)
In contrast, 52% of male likely voters plan to vote for Feinstein, 43% say they will vote for Campbell. Additionally, Campbell secures the married male vote:
51% of married men say they will vote for Campbell (45% Feinstein)
36% of single men say they will vote for Campbell (56% Feinstein)
Feinstein has also shored up the Latino vote, despite some indecision on Proposition 187 during her last election in 1994 (she eventually came out against the proposition). Nearly seven out of ten Latino likely voters (69%) say they will vote for Feinstein, while 30% say they will vote for Campbell, slightly higher than the 26% who say they plan on supporting Bush. Feinstein receives 54% of the white likely vote to Campbells 41%. Candidate Impressions
Campbells biggest obstacle, other than battling a popular, well-funded incumbent Senator, is that with less than two weeks to go until election day, over half (54%) of all likely voters say they do not know enough about him to form an opinion. A third have a favorable opinion of him, and 13% have an unfavorable opinion.
Even Republicans, three quarters of whom plan on voting for him, have not formed an opinion of their candidate:
43% of Republican likely voters do not know enough about Campbell to have an opinion or do not know who he is
52% have a favorable opinion of him
Just 5% have an unfavorable view
These numbers are daunting this close to an election, particularly in a state where Democratic registration outweighs Republican registration, meaning that simply securing the party base is not enough to win.
In stark contrast, just six percent of voters do not know enough about Feinstein to form an opinion of her, not surprising given her tenure in California politics. Two-thirds have a favorable opinion of her, 28% unfavorable.
Among Democrats, nearly nine out of ten (86%) have a favorable view of their senator (7% have an unfavorable opinion). Even 39% of both Republicans and self-identified conservatives have a favorable view of her, though more than half of these two groups (56% and 55% respectively) have unfavorable opinions of her.
Additionally, a full two-thirds of likely voters say they approve of the job Feinstein has been doing as senator (a third approve strongly). In comparison, 63% approve of the job Gray Davis has been doing as governor (19% strongly approve). How the Poll Was Conducted
The Times Poll contacted 1,304 registered voters statewide, including 852 voters most likely to vote, by telephone Oct. 1923, 2000. Telephone numbers were chosen from a list of all exchanges in the state. Random-digit dialing techniques were used so that listed and non-listed numbers could be contacted. The entire sample was weighted slightly to conform with census figures for sex, race, age, education, region and registration. The margin of sampling error for likely voters is plus or minus 4 percentage points. For certain subgroups the error margin may be somewhat higher. Poll results can also be affected by other factors such as question wording and the order in which questions are presented. The poll was conducted in English and Spanish.