Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leads his GOP rivals in California less than three months before the primary, according to a statewide survey released late Wednesday.
The Public Policy Institute of California poll showed support for Trump at 38 percent among likely Republican voters, followed by Ted Cruz at 19 percent and John Kasich at 12 percent. Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who ended his presidential bid last week, received 12 percent in the poll taken March 6 to March 15.
With the totals recalculated to account for Rubio’s departure, Trump remained at 38 percent while support for Cruz grew to 27 percent and Kasich to 14 percent. Under that scenario, Trump, a billionaire businessman and political newcomer, bests the others with voters across all age, education, gender and income groups.
The survey comes as California Republicans, a beleaguered lot in this heavily Democratic state, find themselves in the unlikely situation of possibly deciding the fate of their presidential nominee on June 7. The Republican presidential primary, unlike down-ticket contests, is closed to all non-GOP voters.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
Yet Trump’s statewide lead, if it holds, would guarantee him only 13 of the state’s 172 Republican delegates. The vast majority of California’s GOP delegates June 7 will be allocated by congressional district, with the winner of each of the state’s 53 districts receiving three delegates.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton tops Bernie Sanders 48 percent to 41 percent among likely primary voters, which includes Democrats and independents.
She leads among Latinos (58 percent to 35 percent), women (54 percent to 35 percent), and self-described middle-of-the-road voters (51 percent to 33 percent). Sanders edges her with men (48 percent to 39 percent) and among very liberal voters (57 percent to 41 percent). Most voters aged 45 and older, 63 percent, prefer Clinton while a majority of younger voters, 63 percent, back Sanders.
And while fewer than half of Republicans, and just a third of independents, say they are satisfied with their choice of presidential candidates, a strong majority of Democrats reported being pleased with their options, the poll found.
PPIC also polled the June contest to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. In that race, where the top-two candidates regardless of party advance to the November runoff, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, both Democrats, hold down the first and second slots, though 31 percent of likely voters remain undecided. Harris (26 percent) and Sanchez (17 percent) continue to outperform the five best-known candidates.
Tom Del Beccaro and Duf Sundheim, former state GOP chairmen, remain in single digits at 9 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Meantime, fellow Republican Ron Unz formally announced his surprise candidacy the day the poll was completed.