California is trending bluer over time, and has not voted GOP for president since 1988. But Barack Obama dominated there far more than John Kerry, Al Gore, and even Bill Clinton did. His 24-point win over John McCain was a bigger margin of victory than any candidate of either party has gotten since FDR routed Alf Landon in 1936--besting even California residents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan in their 1972 and 1984 landslides.
And for Obama, there's no looking back. In our latest poll, he beats all the Republicans by at least 21 points, and his approval rating has not faltered since we last surveyed the state in late January. Then, 53% approved, the same as now. His disapproval rating has only ticked up to 43% from 41%. This is the rare state where voters haven't soured on him over the course of this year--even in his native Hawaii, his approval margin took a 15-point nosedive between March and October. Ahead of California, only three states of the 37 in which we've polled Obama this year see him better--the aforementioned Hawaii and the reliably blue New England states of Rhode Island and Vermont.
The president leads Mitt Romney by 21 points (57-36), almost unchanged from 56-36 in the previous survey. Obama tops new frontrunner Newt Gingrich by 26 points (60-34), up two from 58-34. The others were not tested last time. Ron Paul trails by 25 points (57-32), and Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann each by 29 (61-32, and 60-31 for the latter two).
It's no wonder Obama is doing so well. Even ignoring his +10 approval spread, none of the GOP contenders has a favorability rating approaching where a competitive presidential candidate would want to be. Romney's -21 is best off, followed by Bachmann's -23, Cain's and Gingrich's -27, Paul's -31, and Perry's astonishing -53. So Obama more than doubles and almost triples his approval margin in the horseraces, and the Republicans roughly match their favorability spreads, suggesting that here, the vote is more a referendum on the Republicans than on the president.
California voters like this slate of Republicans so little that Obama outperforms his approval marks with Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. An already healthy 12% of Republicans approve of Obama, but 11% (against Romney) to 19% (versus Cain) are pledging to vote for him. 14% of Obama’s own party disapproves--not great news--but only 5-6% of them defect. Independents disapprove by a four-point margin, but Paul is the only GOP contender to beat the president with independents, and by only one point. The others trail by four (Romney), nine (Cain), 10 (Gingrich), 11 (Bachmann), or 19 (Perry).
We've generally been finding Obama holding his ground with Hispanic voters around the country, and it'll be hard for Republicans to win anywhere they're a large portion of the electorate. Here they're about 22%. According to exit polls, the president got about three-quarters of the Hispanic vote in California in 2008. Right now, his approval with them is only 56%, and 35% disapprove. But only 18-31% of them see the Republican candidates favorably, and 48-68% unfavorably. So when it comes time to vote, Obama gets a similar 69-74% of the Hispanic vote as three years ago. Only 20-27% pledge for the Republicans, right in range with McCain's 23%.
The only bad news for Californians is this means the only time they'll see their president next year is for fundraisers. Otherwise, he can ignore the state and put its 55 electoral votes in his pocket.
Full results here