Editorial from Strategist John Thomas:
This contest has stabilized and we are comfortable calling the race this week for Gavin Newsom. Even if Cox captured 100% of the remaining undecideds he still would be 5% shy of the 50% threshold. The reality is this race has been heavily favored toward Newsom since we began testing in early September. Newsom had all the dynamics working in his favor: name ID, sufficient campaign cash, partisan registration, no major mistakes and Trump’s upside down approvals.
Could Cox have ever won? Probably not given the dynamics at play in California and nationally. Cox would have needed a breakout moment and had Newsom implode from within, all which were unlikely given Newsom’s long career and multiple prior electoral tests. GOP donors have largely abandoned statewide Republican candidates which choked off Cox from raising a war chest to allow him to compete in the state’s expensive media markets. Assuming Cox was able to raise the necessary war chest, it still was unlikely that he’d prevail with the party registration drag and Trump’s numbers that have remained around 39%. Cox should pat himself on the back if he outperforms Trump’s approval numbers for having survived a statewide contest but remember that Newsom never engaged in a full throated negative campaign simply because he realized he didn’t need to. The big question is what is next for Cox? Congress? Supervisor? An appointment in the Trump administration? Will Newsom move to the middle once elected or further to the left to position for 2020?
Bottom line: There is not enough runway left for any candidate to change the outcome of this race. Don’t stay up late waiting for this contest on Tuesday night.