A brand new California poll by highly respected pollster SurveyUSA shows that California is an absolute toss up, almost exactly two months prior to the primary that will likely decide whether Donald Trump reaches 1,237 delegates or not.
The top line result of this poll is Trump 40, Cruz 32, Kasich 17. However, consistent with other polls in other locations, Trump has clearly already hit his ceiling at 40%:
Extremely unscripted Donald Trump is viewed extremely unfavorably by half of California’s registered voters and by 15% of Republicans most likely to vote in the state’s 06/07/16 GOP Primary, according to research just completed by SurveyUSA for television stations KABC in Los Angeles, KPIX in San Francisco, KGTV in San Diego, and KFSN in Fresno. 71% of CA women and 75% of CA Latinos view Trump negatively today. But even with this anchor tied to his foot, Trump at this hour continues to lead Ted Cruz, though narrowly, among likely Republican primary voters.
The race for California will thus likely come down to whether John Kasich has enough money to stay in the race for another two months, and whether an unmitigated string of losses will eventually force him to drop out. Given Trump’s unfavorability numbers, one assumes that if Kasich were not in the race, the majority of his voters will go to Cruz.
Right now, depending on how well Trump performs in April and May, Trump is more or less on pace to be somewhere between 100-400 delegates short of the magic number 1,237 come June 7th, when California (172 delegates) and several other states (combined total ~ 130 delegates) will vote. If Trump is over 1,000 pledged delegates on that date, the pressure on Kasich to drop out will be enormous. If he’s closer to 800 or 900, Kasich will probably stay in, because Trump will be exceedingly unlikely to cross the threshold either way.
One way or another California looks very likely to be the (unlikely) key state in the Republican primary this year.