Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holds a solid lead among registered Republican voters in California, according to the latest USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll.
When asked who they would vote for if an election for president were held today, 42 percent of California Republicans said they would select Romney, giving him a 19-point lead over his nearest competitor. Twenty-three percent of Republicans in the state selected Rick Santorum; 12 percent chose Newt Gingrich; and 10 percent selected Ron Paul.
However, Romney is having a hard time rallying the conservative Republican base in the Golden State. “While Romney maintains a lead over Rick Santorum, he’s not making inroads into the demographic voting groups that have carried Santorum in other states,” says Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and director of the poll.
“Romney is winning the state by a large margin because the Republicans who tend to support him — suburban, upscale, more moderate Republican voters — are more populous than in the Midwest or the South,” Schnur notes. “The types of voters who tend to support Rick Santorum — working class voters and religious conservatives — are not shifting to Romney in California. There just aren’t many of them here.”
Overall, Republican voters in California have lukewarm feelings for the candidates who could win their party’s nomination.
Registered Republicans in California were asked if they were satisfied with their candidate choices for the Republican presidential nomination or if they would prefer other options. Forty-six percent of those polled said they were satisfied; 50 percent said they would prefer other options.
When Californians were asked whether they would vote for Obama or Romney in a hypothetical match-up, Obama led with 57 percent support, compared with 36 percent support for Romney. In similar theoretical match-ups, Obama led Gingrich 62 to 30, Santorum 61 to 31 and Ron Paul 59 to 31.
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