Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of Republican primary voters in California – the country’s most delegate-rich state – during the Nov. 10-13 period, and it shows that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has opened up an 11-point lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (33-22 percent).
There are at least two important factors to consider here, however. First, the sample size for a Republican-registered voter electorate that exceeds 5.3 million people is only 316 respondents, way too small to accurately forecast macro GOP voting preferences. Second, California’s primary system, like that of Florida and several other states, is winner-take-all by congressional district. While placing first in the statewide popular vote count is worth 10 delegates, each of the 53 congressional districts delivers three apiece. Therefore, a mere statewide popular vote poll does not accurately forecast candidate strength under this particular voting format.
There is no question that Newt Gingrich’s candidacy is ascending. Should the nomination campaign progress through the early states with no apparent winner, then California, with its full complement of 172 delegates, could become a deciding state. The Gingrich campaign will have to focus on more traditional organizational activities if they are to take advantage of their candidate’s current wave of support; something that right now, they are incapable of doing.