Last weekend, Republican delegates and presidential candidates gathered for the California Republican Party Spring Convention, but all eyes were on businessman Donald Trump. With recent polls showing him well ahead in the June 7 GOP primary, I built a statistical model to see how he’d perform in North County, and other regions throughout the state.
Exit polls from early Republican presidential primaries have identified strong electoral support for Trump from key demographic groups — largely non-urban, working class white voters. An analysis by the New York Times in March found that, among hundreds of demographic and economic variables, electoral support for Trump was highest in areas with large numbers of white residents with no high school diplomas, a large mobile home population, and a large share of “old economy” jobs (manufacturing, construction, et al.).
Over time, primary polling and electoral results have shown that Trump’s appeal has expanded beyond this core base, and now includes a broader swath of the Republican electorate.
Evaluating demographics using statistics is one way to project the outcome of an election in an area; it is a technique that has been readily used by journalists and data analysts covering the 2016 Democratic and Republican presidential contests. To project the results from the Republican presidential contest in California, I first calculated the percentage of vote won by Trump by congressional district in four recent state elections — Michigan, New York, Florida and Ohio. I then collected congressional district level data from the United States Census Bureau for these four states, as well as California, on five key variables that have shown a high correlation to strong Trump support on Election Day.
Finally, I used statistical methods to analyze the power of these variables, and project a correlating vote in California congressional districts.
My California model projects that Trump would win a majority of votes in 24 of 53 (45 percent) state congressional districts, and would have a commanding lead (45 to 49 percent) in an additional 17 districts (32 percent). Using GIS mapping software, we see that Trump’s strongest electoral support comes from the Inland Empire, north Los Angeles County, and the southern outlying counties of the San Francisco Bay area. His weakest electoral support is concentrated along the Central Coast, the Central Valley, and far Northern California counties.
In North County, I project Trump will receive 48.4 percent of the vote in the coastal 49th District, 49.2 percent in the inland 50th District (which is shared with East County), and 51.2 percent in the urban 52nd District (which largely overlaps with the city of San Diego).
Based on my model, the projected statewide vote for Trump is 49.7 percent. This is nearly identical to the Fox News and CBS News/YouGov state polls taken in the last two weeks, which both had Trump at 49 percent.
My California vote model is only an approximation of the projected vote; many factors, including exogenous events and targeted campaigning efforts by Republican candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich, could alter the outcome of district-level races.
The California Republican primary is officially a “winner-take-all” contest by congressional district, with three delegates awarded per congressional district to the candidate who earns the most votes per district, an additional 10 at large delegates awarded to the winner of the most votes statewide, and three pre-determined delegates.
Based on the model, I project that Donald Trump will win at least 133 out of the 172 delegates (77 percent) in California.
This is a larger delegate share than what has been earlier projected by political experts (93). The implications of this projected Trump victory in California is significant, as it would likely mean that the candidate would secure the Republican party nomination outright, making a contested convention scenario unlikely.
Are you voting for Trump in June? Lots of North County Republicans, it seems, will be.
Vince Vasquez is a think tank analyst based in Torrey Pines. He is a Carlsbad resident.