Obama popular while unemployment, gas prices soar in California

Gasoline prices in California are $1.00 a gallon more than the average cost in the rest of the country according to the Los Angeles Times.  Since Obama took office in 2009, gas prices have risen around 100% nationwide and even worse in California.  According to the California Energy Commission, on January 21, 2009, the day after Obama took office, a gallon of regular gasoline in this state cost $2.06 on average.  On March 12, the same gallon of gas cost $4.38, a 106% increase under Barack Obama.

Astronomical gas prices are not California’s only problem.   Unemployment is 10.9% here, higher than the rest of the nation (8.3% nationwide), and at record rates still in important former “growth” counties like San Bernardino, where last week the unemployment rate grew from 11.9 percent in December to 12.3% now, around 40% higher unemployment than the national average.

One would think that California citizens, ranging all the way across the political spectrum from the Tea Party to the Occupy Movement, would be united in anger against the President’s economic policies, and taking it out on him in the Presidential polls.  But the reality is very much to the contrary.  While automobile dependent unemployed Californians continue to be the chump at the filling station, Obama’s support in California is reaching all time high levels of popularity.  In fact, Obama’s strongest large state nationwide appears to be California.

Mid-February polling by Field, Survey USA and Rasmussen Reports gave Obama an average 23.6 % lead over Romney in a one-on-one vote, with Obama at 57.3% to Romney’s 33.7%.  These figures are landslide proportions for Obama, and even threaten to exceed the other biggest lopsided vote in a Presidential election in California, as in 1964, which left the Republican party in shambles nationwide: Johnson vs. Goldwater.  In 1964, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater only managed to carry five states across the country against incumbent Democratic President Lyndon Johnson.  Goldwater was creamed in California but still managed to get about 41% of the vote here, and at a time when the demographics of the state were far more favorable to Republican candidates.  The fact that Romney is polling so much lower than Goldwater’s results at a time when Californians are really hurting suggests that if Romney is the eventual nominee, he may sadly be in for a thumping bigger than even Goldwater’s.

What is it about Obama and California voters?  Perhaps a better question is simply “what is it about California voters?”  One party dominance in Sacramento has lead to disaster economically in the state, which spends far more than in takes in and which has lost control to public employee unions on issues like pay, benefits, and pensions.  It is hard to believe that things could be worse in the Golden State from a policy level; yet Democrats keep winning elections here.  Will California voters ever wake up?  Maybe not in 2012.

Courtesy Tony Fischer Photography, flickr