.A new batch of polls on the California Governor and US Senate races is in and they have good news all around. Expect e-mails from your favorite candidate touting them.
Similarly, if you are Republican candidate for Governor John Cox, you will point to the Probolsky Research poll that has you just 5 points behind Gavin Newsom or the Thomas Partner Strategies’s poll that has you just 4 points behind. If you are Newsom, you’ll rejoice that IPSOS has Cox trailing you by 12 points while Vox Populi polling has him behind you by 20.
If you are a voter, and in particular a Democrat fearing a Cox win as a second coming of Trump, you may be wondering whether to make plans to sell your house and move to the Nevada desert, or carry on as usual. While I’m not an expert on polls, I’m going for the second approach.
Probolsky Research, the firm that has good news for both Kevin De Leon and John Cox, is a private pollster out of Orange County. Probolsky was apparently commissioned to do a poll for some unnamed client, and added the questions on governor, US Senate and insurance commissioner on their own. According to a well known Democratic activist and political blogger from the area, Probolsky is a Republican outfit, probably polling on behalf of the Republican Party and released these numbers because “they need to buck up the spirits of Republican voters, even if it means misleading them.”
While the polling analysis website Five ThirtyEight rates Probolsky’s quality as a pollster with a “B”, its analysts generally caution against putting much weight on internal polls. Indeed, in poll taken in April 2018, approximately six weeks before the primary, Probolsky had Feinstein gather almost 39% of the vote with 28% going to De Leon. In the primary, Feinstein got 44% of the vote vs De Leon’s 12%.
None of the other three pollsters seem to have polled California races in the primary, but IPSOS gets an overall grade of B+ from Five Thirtyeight and is the only “public” pollster among the bunch, i.e. the one that does not work regularly for political campaigns. It’s also very well known, and polls internationally – which suggests they don’t have an interest in releasing polls bent a certain way. Vox Populi Polling, aka Pop Polling, is a Republican outfit seemingly working for private clients and apparently has not released polls since 2015. Thomas Partners Strategies has partnered with Optimus to do their polls, a firm that gets a C- rating from Five Thirtyeight.
In all, I’m inclined to disregard the Probolsky/Pop Polling/Optimus polls and give more weight to IPSOS. And it’s results are what I think we can expect in these races. IPSOS has Feinstein receiving 44% of the vote, which is exactly what she got in the primary. It has De Leon getting 24%, which is what the primary polls anticipated he would get. He ended up only winning 12% of the vote, but that’s probably because voters, once faced with the ballots, saw they had many more choices. What we can discern is that 24% of likely voters are firmly
against Feinstein. Meanwhile, IPSOS has Newsom get 52% of the vote vs Cox’ 40%. These numbers look reasonable as well. Republican Neel Kashkari received 40% of the vote in his race against Governor Brown in 2014 while Republican Meg Whitman got 41% in 2010.
Of course, anything can happen in a campaign – but with the mail-in ballots dropping in a couple of weeks, it will have to happen soon.