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California poll results are in for the presidential race

May 23, 2008 |  2:33 pm

Hillary Clinton may have scored a solid win over Barack Obama in California's presidential primary on Feb. 5 (as she frequently likes to remind folks these days), but a new L.A. Times/KTLA poll finds he would fare better than she in the battle with John McCain for the state in November (a result the Clinton camp won't be touting).

Obama led McCain in the poll, 47-40%; in a Clinton matchup with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, she got 43%, he held steady at 40%.

One reason for pause for Democrats -- the margins for both of their candidates fall within the survey's error margin of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points (though in Obama's case, just barely).

Times reporter Cathleen Decker, in a detailed analysis of the poll, notes that McCain benefits from stronger support from Latinos in California than George W. Bush got in the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns.

But, as Decker also writes, McCain may be disappointed if he's looking for a boost to his prospects in California from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The new poll, conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, found the GOP governor's approval rating among registered voters in the state has taken a big hit over just a few months. It stood at 60% in January; now it's at 43%.

Some background:

The last Republican to win the state in a White House race was George H.W. Bush in 1988; he defeated Michael Dukakis, 51%-48%.

Bill Clinton won it in 1992 with 46%; Bush got 33% and Ross Perot 21%. Clinton triumphed handily again in 1996, with 51% of the vote to Bob Dole's 38%.

In 2000, Al Gore beat George W. Bush, 53%-42%. And four years ago, John Kerry kept the state securely in the Democratic column, getting 54% of the vote to Bush's 44%.

-- Don Frederick