New Poll: Gas Tax Even, Poizner Lead Widens, Newsom Maintains Advantage

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. –  We are just 20 days away from the November midterms, and California polls continue to show a historic election in the making.

Thomas Partners Strategies released the results of its latest poll for KFI AM 640 (KFI-NBC) Wednesday. There are three races of interest in particular:

  • The odds of California voters electing the first independent — Steve Poizner — to statewide office are increasing;
  • Gavin Newsom maintains his lead over John Cox, though his advantage with No Party Preference voters is shrinking; and
  • Proposition 6 — the gas tax repeal — is polling evenly. Where support is coming from though is an interesting story.

Poizner’s Lead Expands

The race for state insurance commissioner could make history on Election Day. The KFI-NBC poll shows No Party Preference candidate Steve Poizner at 46.7%, closing in on a clear majority as the number of undecided voters shrinks.

A statewide poll published exclusively on IVN on October 2 showed 38.5% of voters supported Poizner, 28.3% supported Democrat Ricardo Lara, and a third of voters were undecided. If turnout reflects these polling trends, Poizner is in a strong position to be the first independent elected to statewide office in California history.

What these polls cannot account for, however, is the reality that partisan candidates benefit from massively funded “GOTV” (Get Out the Vote) programs run by the political parties that are specifically designed to skew turnout in their favor.

Poizner, as an independent (NPP), of course, will not benefit from such an effort. So, the question is whether his lead is sufficient to overcome the institutional disadvantage.

Having said that, Poizner’s rise has come during the same period in which another high-profile independent, Greg Orman — running for governor in closed primary Kansas — is having to battle the age-old “spoiler” narrative that has historically haunted independent efforts.

Poizner advanced to the November election under California’s nonpartisan, top-two open primary, pitting him in a one-on-one race against a single major party candidate. Under a traditional partisan primary system, Poizner would have found himself in the same position as Orman — which puts independent candidates in a near impossible situation to overcome.

Newsom Maintains Lead over Cox

Gavin Newsom’s lead over Republican John Cox in the governor’s race has narrowed, but the KFI-NBC poll shows him with a 7-point lead with just a little over two weeks until Election Day. The poll has Newsom at 50.7% and Cox at 43.3%.

The voting bloc Newsom needs to be concerned about the most are No Party Preference voters. His lead among these voters is slim, according to the poll, at 46.7% to Cox’s 44.8%.

If No Party Preference support continues to slip, the governor’s race could end up being much closer than many politicos anticipated. Still, probably safer not to bet the house on Cox.

Voters Divided on Gas Tax

Proposition 6 — the gas tax repeal — is arguably the most contentious proposition race in 2018, and polls don’t provide a clear forecast on how it will turn out.

The KFI-NBC poll shows support for repealing the gas tax at 35%, while 35.7% oppose it. What’s interesting to note about these results is the age gap, and it’s not what one might expect.

The gas tax repeal offers Republicans an opportunity to boost turnout among the party’s membership. However, the latest poll shows that a majority of young voters (52%) say they plan to vote yes on repeal. That is not the demographic Republicans hoped to target.

Older voters (aged 35-54), on the other hand, are more likely to vote against repeal. The KFI-NBC poll shows 44.7% in this age group oppose repeal, while 26.2% support the proposition. The rest are undecided.

In all three of these races, one thing remains clear, No Party Preference voters are going to have a deciding voice in the 2018 midterms.

Image: No Party Preference candidate Steve Poizner