President Barack Obama holds a commanding lead in California heading into Tuesday's election, according to a new poll, although the gap between the Democratic incumbent and Republican challenger Mitt Romney has tightened a bit.
A final pre-election survey by the nonpartisan Field Poll released today finds that Obama leads Romney 54 percent to 39 percent among likely voters statewide.
The 15-point gap is considered an insurmountable lead, but it also represents a nine-percentage-point erosion since Field's September polling showed Obama up 58 percent to 34 percent.
"It appears that Romney's image is a little stronger," said Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo. "He's improved his standing with some voters."
But California remains a political fortress for the president, built on the Democratic leanings of the state's large and growing ethnic groups. Nearly nine in 10 African Americans in the state favor Obama. Latinos lean his way by a 3-1 ratio. The ratio of Asian Americans who prefer Obama is running 2 1/2-to-1.
White non-Hispanic voters split evenly in their presidential preference, 47 percent for Obama and 47 percent for Romney.
The Field Poll also showed that voters support Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's bid for a fourth six-year term by an even wider margin than Obama's, 54 percent to 33 percent. Feinstein's Republican challenger, Elizabeth Emken, remains virtually unknown to California voters. Nearly seven in 10 said they had no opinion of her.