The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Why Obama’s Margin in California Matters


We all know President Obama will win California this year.

But in 2008, the bottom fell out for Republicans in the Golden State — chalk it up to a lack of money for the McCain-Palin ticket, the housing markets tumbling, gas prices, or the sense in the final days that Obama was a sure winner. Whatever the reasons, Obama thrashed McCain in California, 61 percent to 37 percent, about 8.2 million votes to 5 million.

Thus, about 3.2 million of Obama’s 9.5 million national vote margin came from California.

This morning, Survey USA puts Obama ahead, 53 percent to 39 percent; a PPIC poll in mid-September had identical numbers, while the Field poll had a bigger lead for Obama, 58 percent to 34 percent.

Presuming that California’s turnout is in the 13 to 14 million range, and that Romney loses by something closer to the current 14-point margin instead of 2008′s 24-point margin, that puts the Romney-Ryan ticket about 1.3 million votes closer to a popular-vote win. Of course, the presidency is determined by the Electoral College, but the popular vote is an important psychological marker, key to establishing a mandate after the election. Finally, Republicans will be sighing great relief if what we see in California is emulated everywhere else: Obama is running 10 points behind his 2008 totals.

Tags: Barack Obama , California , Mitt Romney


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