Orange County’s independent voters heavily favor a Democrat Congress member in the county’s four Republican-held congressional districts, underlining the GOP’s vulnerability in these longtime strongholds, according to a poll released Friday.
Of independent and third-party voters in the county’s four GOP congressional districts, 46 percent favor a Democratic candidate in next year’s election and 21 percent prefer a Republican.
Overall, voters in those districts prefer a Republican, 44 percent to 41 percent. But unaffiliated voters’ strong preference for a Democrat could spell trouble, especially since all four districts voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton last year and two key policies of President Donald Trump are viewed unfavorably by voters there.
While the survey was done by a Democratic pollster, non-partisan political data expert Paul Mitchell said the methodology, questions and results showed no signs of bias. Mitchell’s company, Political Data Inc., is the state’s leading provider of voter information and electoral analysis to both Democrats and Republicans.
“It would be really distressing for me, if I was a Republican, to see strong support only in the Republican base — that it didn’t spill into the moderates,” said Jonathan Brown of Claremont-based Sextant Strategies & Research, which conducted the survey. He said the company was not paid for the poll. Rather, it chose to so the survey so it could analyze the difference between phone and internet results, with both methods being used.
The poll provides fresh insight into the vulnerabilities of the Republican incumbents, who have already been identified by numerous experts as being susceptible to strong challengers next year.
The four are among 23 targeted nationwide by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has already paid for two Orange County-based organizers and has announced plans to move its Western regional office from Washington, D.C., to…