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Obama Leads in Calif.

President Obama maintains a commanding lead over Mitt Romney with California voters, finds the new USC Dornsife/L.A. Times Poll.

President Barack Obama continues to hold a commanding lead over Republican nominee Mitt Romney among California voters, a lead which has held relatively steady over the past year. But support for Obama hasn’t yet reached the level the president achieved in 2008, according to the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll.

Statewide, 55 percent of voters support the Obama-Biden ticket, compared with 39 percent who back Romney-Ryan.

The gap has tightened slightly, by three percentage points since May, when 56 percent of voters said they supported Obama and 37 percent supported Romney.

In the 2008 presidential election, Obama captured nearly 61 percent of California voters.

Obama has earned support from women and Latino voters at roughly the same levels as he did during the 2008 presidential race, finds the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll. The poll shows that 73 percent of Latinos and 61 percent of women support Obama, while 19 percent of Latinos and 34 percent of women back Romney.

Romney leads Obama among white voters in California (49 to 46), and Obama holds a slim lead over Romney among male voters (48 to 44). Black voters overwhelmingly support Obama over Romney (93 to 4).

Eighty-four percent of registered Democrats favor Obama, while 10 percent are in favor of Romney. Among registered Republicans, 81 percent support Romney and 14 percent support Obama. “Decline to state” voters favor Obama over Romney, 58 percent to 34 percent.

The gap in support for Obama between younger voters and older voters remains large: Sixty-three percent of voters aged 18 to 49 support Obama, compared with 32 percent in that age group who favor Romney. Among voters 50 and older, 48 percent support Obama and 45 percent back Romney.

California Optimism on the Rise

While Californians are still largely skeptical about the direction in which the United States is headed, their optimism about the country’s future is at its highest point in recent years, according to the poll.

With the election just weeks away, the largest survey of registered voters in the state shows that a majority of Californians — 51 percent — still think the country is “seriously off on the wrong track,” compared with 39 percent who say things are headed in the right direction.

When this question was last asked, in August 2011, 73 percent said they believed the country was on the wrong track, compared with 16 percent who said the country was headed in the right direction.

“As California begins to see the first signs of economic recovery, the state’s voters are slightly more upbeat about the future than they were at the depths of the recession,” says Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. “But it’s been a difficult stretch over the last few years for California and its people, so it’s going to be awhile before we start seeing real levels of optimism again.”

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