Wow, the gap is worse than Obama’s people might have feared. As Ryan Lizza wrote in GQ, back in the spring:
Obama’s pollsters were finding alarming evidence that their candidate was vulnerable to the same phenomenon. When they compared the percentage of Democrats who said they strongly approved of Obama with the percentage who said they would vote for him, they found that the latter number was significantly lower than the former. Inside the campaign, aides dubbed this “the Gap.” It was a sobering, hard number that quantified the difference between vague enthusiasm and actual votes. For Hillary Clinton, the gap is much smaller. The majority of voters who strongly approve of her also say they will vote for her.
And that seems to be borne out by some shocking new poll results (California only folks) today (via the SF Chron):
New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, bolstered by an aggressive campaign organization in California, has amassed a whopping 30-point lead over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama &mdash and enjoys more support among likely voters in the state Democratic primary than all of her Democratic presidential rivals combined, a Field Poll released today shows.
The poll solidifies Clinton’s position as the clear front-runner in the nation’s most populous state &mdash and raises questions about Obama’s effort in California, whose primary is Feb. 5. The Illinois senator has seen his support drop by one-third since the previous Field Poll taken in March….
Clinton’s strengths in California include a crushing 4-1 lead among Latino voters, a more than 2-1 lead among women and African American voters, and at least a 2-1 lead in every geographic region in the state, the poll showed. She is also the overwhelming favorite in all age groups and ethnic groups and at every education level.
The robust poll findings, DiCamillo said, suggest Clinton may be putting to rest some of the commonly cited worries of Democrats regarding her campaign — that she could be too divisive and therefore less attractive to independent and swing voters.
“I was looking for hints of vulnerability… and it’s not really there in the data,” DiCamillo said. “One theory was she is going to do very poorly among Republicans … (but) you don’t really see any evidence to support that.”
The poll showed that all three top Democratic candidates would defeat the four leading Republicans: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and Arizona Sen. John McCain.
But Clinton appears strongest in head-to-head matchups &mdash leading all the GOP candidates by 15 to 20 percentage points.
Did Obama peak too early? Or is it too early to tell much from poll numbers? It’s an impressive ground effort in California, that much seems clear.