Field Poll, Nov. 4, 2008

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					THE FIELD POLL
Release #2294

THE INDEPENDENT AND NON-PARTISAN SURVEY OF PUBLIC OPINION ESTABLISHED IN 1947 AS THE CALIFORNIA POLL BY MERVIN FIELD

Field Research Corporation
601 California Street, Suite 900 San Francisco, CA 94108-2814 (415) 392-5763 FAX: (415) 434-2541 EMAIL: fieldpoll@field.com www.field.com/fieldpollonline

FOR ADVANCE PUBLICATION BY SUBSCRIBERS ONLY.
COPYRIGHT 2008 BY FIELD RESEARCH CORPORATION.

Release Date and Time: 6:00 a.m., Tuesday, November 4, 2008 IMPORTANT: Contract for this service is subject to revocation if publication or broadcast takes place before release date or if contents are divulged to persons outside of subscriber staff prior to release time. (ISSN 0195-4520)

CALIFORNIA ELECTION RECORDS TO BE SET IN BOTH THE NUMBER OF VOTES CAST AND THE NUMBER VOTING EARLY OR BY MAIL. By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field

A combination of population gains, more residents becoming naturalized citizens, aggressive voter registration drives, organized get-out-the-vote efforts, and high voter interest will result in record numbers of Californians participating in this year’s election. According to The Field Poll 13.6 million Californians will be voting in today’s presidential election, greater than a million more voters than participated in 2004, the state’s previous high. State agencies estimate that the state’s population stands at about 38 million, of whom about 23 million are citizens and eligible to vote, and 17.3 million are registered. All are record highs. If 13.6 million votes are indeed cast in today’s statewide election, it would represent a turnout of 78.9% of registered voters and a participation rate of 58.8% of citizens eligible to vote. The former would be the highest turnout rate in twenty-two years, while the latter would be the highest participation rate since 1972.

Field Research Corporation is an Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Employer

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Table 1 Estimates of California population, eligible to vote and registration totals, and turnout and participation rates in statewide general elections – 1960 – 2008 (figures in thousands)
Population Registration Percent of CitizenEligibles 74.6 69.9 70.7 75.0 70.5 71.3 73.2 71.9 80.2 77.7 72.6 70.0 73.5 73.1 78.8 72.3 73.9 68.5 70.3 72.5 78.6 71.5 72.7 72.9 74.7 73.1 77.9 Voting Percent of CitizenPercent Eligibles of (“Participation Registration rate”) 78.9 3 56.2 50.1 76.0 61.2 50.6 70.9 57.6 65.6 60.5 75.3 58.6 72.8 59.4 74.9 69.8 77.2 70.4 81.5 64.1 82.1 76.2 85.7 79.2 88.4 78.7 88.3 58.8 3 39.3 35.4 57.0 43.1 36.1 57.9 41.4 52.5 47.0 54.5 41.0 53.5 43.4 59.1 50.4 57.0 48.2 57.3 46.5 64.5 54.4 62.3 57.7 66.0 57.5 68.8

November General Elections 2008 P 2006 2005 SE 2004 P 2003 SE 2002 2000 P 1998 1996 P 1994 1992 P 1990 1988 P 1986 1984 P 1982 1980 P 1978 1976 P 1974 1972 P 1970 1968 P 1966 1964 P 1962 1960 P
NOTE:
1 2 3 4

Total 38,049 37,172 36,810 35,394 35,591 35,301 34,336 33,252 32,344 32,000 31,000 29,800 28,592 26,444 25,550 24,500 23,669 22,314 21,550 20,915 20,447 19,971 19,143 18,550 17,708 16,579 15,567

Eligible to Vote1 23,209 22,652 22,488 22,075 21,833 21,466 21,461 20,806 19,527 18,496 4 20,864 19,245 19,052 17,561 16,582 15,984 15,384 14,781 14,196 13,703 13,322 2 12,182 11,813 11,448 10,959 10,305 9,587

Number Registered 17,304 15,837 15,891 16,557 15,381 15,303 15,707 14,969 15,602 14,724 15,101 13,478 14,005 12,834 13,074 11,559 11,362 10,130 9,980 9,928 10,466 8,706 8,588 8,341 8,184 7,531 7,465

Number Voting 13,650 3 8,899 7,969 12,590 9,413 7,739 11,143 8,618 10,260 8,901 11,374 7,899 10,200 7,617 9,796 8,064 8,775 7,132 8,137 6,395 8,596 6,633 7,364 6,606 7,233 5,930 6,593

P SE

Eligible voting population estimates are based on projections of the U.S. Census made by the California Department of Finance. Prior to 1972, minimum voting age was 21. Since 1972, it has been 18. Field Poll estimates. The computation of the number of citizen-eligibles by the California Department of Finance in 1994 was done using a different methodology than in previous years. Thus, the apparent decline in citizen-eligibles may be a result of this change in methodology rather than a real decline in the citizen-eligible population. Indicates Presidential election year, all others are gubernatorial election years. Indicates Special Election

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Early and mail ballot voting Another voting record will be set in California in today’s election -- the number of voters choosing to vote early or by mail. The Field Poll estimates that about 6.3 million Californians will cast their ballots in this fashion, far more than in any previous election. This would also represent a larger share (46.5%) of the total votes cast than any prior statewide general election. Over the past thirty years both the number and proportion of voters who are choosing to vote by mail has increased in an almost straight-line fashion. In 1978 ago just 314 thousand Californians voted in this manner, representing just 4.4% of the total. By 1990 both the number and proportion of Californians voted this way, increased four-fold to 1.4 million, 18.1% of all votes cast. By the time of the last presidential election in 2004 the number of mail ballot voters had increased to over 4.1 million, representing 32.6% of the votes cast in that election. Now, it appears that over 6.3 million Californians will vote in this fashion, 2.2 million more than in 2004. Table 2a Precinct and Absentee Ballot Voting in California General Elections since 1978 Precinct voters 2008 2006 2005 (SE) 2004 (P) 2003 (SE) 2002 2000 (P) 1998 1996 (P) 1994 1992 (P) 1990 1988 (P) 1986 1984 (P) 1982 1980 (P) 1978 1976 (P)
(P)

Absentee/mail voters 6,350,000 3,696,940 3,183,614 4,105,179 2,775,785 2,096,094 2,739,155 2,131,462 2,078,065 1,962,844 1,950,179 1,452,139 1,434,853 685,340 913,574 525,186 549,077 314,258 366,694 (46.5%)* (41.5%) (40.0%) (32.6%) (29.5%) (27.1%) (24.6%) (24.7%) (20.2%) (22.0%) (17.2%) (18.4%) (14.1%) (9.0%) (9.3%) (6.5%) (6.3%) (4.4%) (4.5%)

Total votes cast 13,650,000* 8,899,059 7,968,757 12,589,683 9,413,377 7,738,821 11,142,843 8,617,649 10,263,490 8,900,593 11,374,184 7,888,131 10,194,539 7,617,142 9,796,375 8,064,314 8,775,459 7,132,210 8,137,202

7,300,000 5,202,119 4,785,143 8,484,504 6,637,592 5,642,727 8,403,688 6,486,187 8,185,425 6,937,749 9,424,005 6,446,992 8,759,686 6,931,802 8,882,801 7,539,128 8,226,382 6,817,952 7,770,508

(53.5%)* (58.5%) (60.0%) (67.4%) (70.5%) (72.9%) (75.4%) (75.3%) (79.8%) (78.0%) (82.8%) (81.6%) (85.9%) (91.0%) (90.7%) (93.5%) (93.7%) (95.6%) (95.5%)

(P) indicates Presidential election, all others are gubernatorial elections (SE) special election * Field Poll estimates All other figures are from the California Secretary of State.

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Table 2b Trend of precinct and early or mail ballot voting in California presidential elections (1976 – present)
95% 94% 91% 86% 83% 80% 75% 67% 53%

Precinct voters

Mail ballot voters
14% 5% 6% 9% 17% 20%

33% 25%

47%

1976

1980

1984

1988

1992

1996

2000

2004

2008

Demographic differences between precinct and mail ballot voters Voters choosing to vote at their local voting precincts will include a much larger proportion of Democrats than Republicans (46% to 30%). Among those voting early or by mail, the gap between the two major parties is much narrower – Democrats 41% and Republicans 37%. Compared to precinct voters, mail ballot voters in California have the following demographic profile: they include more voters age 65 or older, larger proportions of white non-Hispanics, more Protestants, those who identify themselves as conservative or middle-of-the road in politics, as well as a greater share of voters residing in the state’s inland counties.

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Table 3 A Comparison of the Demographic Differences Between Likely Precinct and Mail Ballot/Early Voters in the 2008 Presidential Election in California Precinct voters Mail ballot/early voters Total likely voters (53%) (47%) Area Coastal counties Inland counties Party registration Democrat Republican Other Political ideology Conservative Middle-of-the-road Liberal Gender Male Female Race/ethnicity White non-Hispanic Latino Black/African-American Asian/other Age 18-34 35-49 50-64 65 or older Marital status Married/living together Separated/divorced/widowed Single/never married Education High school or less Some college/trade school College graduate Post-graduate work Religion Protestant Catholic Other No preference Household income Less than $20,000 $20,000 - $59,999 $60,000 - $99,999 $100,000 or more 71% 29 43% 34 23 31% 40 29 47% 53 67% 19 6 8 25% 27 29 19 66% 14 20 18% 37 24 21 43% 24 18 15 10% 31 26 33 73% 27 46% 30 24 30% 37 33 49% 51 65% 23 6 6 28% 29 29 13 67% 11 22 18% 37 25 20 40% 26 20 14 9% 33 26 32 68% 32 41% 37 22 33% 42 25 46% 54 70% 15 6 9 22% 25 29 24 65% 18 17 17% 37 24 22 46% 22 18 14 12% 29 25 34

Source: The Field Poll conducted October 18-28, 2008 among a random sample of 966 Californians likely to vote in the November general election.

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The changing shape of the California electorate by age and ethnicity This year’s record turnout will include significantly larger numbers of ethnic voters from the state’s growing Latino and Asian populations. The Field Poll is expecting that one in three Californians voting this year (33%) will come from voters from the state’s racial and ethnic populations, up from 29% in 2000 and 23% in 1996. The share of voters will be under age 30 is also expected to increase to 19% of all voters, up four percentage points from the 2000 presidential election. In addition, this year’s electorate will include a greater share of voters in the 45-59 age category than in prior elections. Table 4 Comparing the age and race/ethnicity of California voters in Presidential elections (1996 – 2008) 1996* 2000* Race/ethnicity White non-Hispanic 77% 71% Latino 11 14 African-American 6 7 Asian/other 6 8 Age 18 – 29 17% 15% 30 – 44 30 27 45 – 59 25 28 60 or older 28 30
* Source: Voter News Service, California exit poll. 2008 estimates are from The Field Poll.

2008 67% 19 6 8 19% 27 31 23

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