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California State Capitol on March 11, 2022. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe).

New Poll Has Incumbents Showing Strong Primary Leads For Gubernatorial, Senate, AG

‘If things start going South for some of the incumbents heading into September and October, we may be looking at some very close races’

By Evan Symon, June 3, 2022 12:37 pm

A U.C. Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) poll covering the Gubernatorial, Senate, and Attorney General primary races was released on Friday, showing a strong preference among voters for Democratic incumbents, albeit with a larger than expected percentage of projected votes going towards Republican candidates.

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaking at the State of the State address in Sacramento, CA, Mar 8, 2022. (Photo: Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock)

According to the poll, California Governor Gavin Newsom currently has a commanding lead in the Gubernatorial race with 50% of the vote, with 83% of all Democrats, 4% of Republicans, and 46% of non-party voters being in favor of him. Newsom also has majority support amongst all races and geographic locations in the poll. The closest geographic location was the San Joaquin Valley, with Newsom holding an 11 point lead there over the closest GOP candidate.

The closest second-place candidate, Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), only came away with 10% amongst challengers due to the fractured GOP support caused by multiple candidates in the race, including homeless advocate Michael Shellenberger who had a distant third place with 5% of the vote. While both Dahle and Shellenberger had only 1% of the Democratic vote each, Dahle topped GOP voters with 26% compared to Shellenberger’s 10% and non-party voters with 8% in contrast to Shellenberger’s 6%. No other GOP candidate had more than 3% of the vote. 16% of the vote, including a whopping 24% of Republicans and 16% of non-party voters, remain undecided only a few days before the primary election.

In the Senate race, which is split between a full-term race and a part-term race due to former Senator and current Vice President Kamala Harris leaving office early, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) currently has a large lead in both with 42% in the full-term race and 44% in the partial-term race respectfully. While only 5% of Republicans are with him in either race, at least 70% of Democrats and 35% of non-party voters are generally for him. Undecided was second place in both races, with just over 20% of voters not sure about both races coming into the final week of the race. Around one-third on non-party voters, a quarter of Republicans, and nearly 20% of Democrats remain undecided for both races.

The closest candidate to Padilla, and the only one garnering more than 10%, is Republican constitutional attorney Mark Meuser, who currently has 11% in the full-term race and 14% in the partial-term race. Most of his support is coming from GOP voters, with Meuser garnering 29% support in the full-term race and 38% in the partial-term race.

The Attorney General race also has a Democrat, current Attorney General Rob Bonta, out with a large 46% of the vote lead. Like Newsom and Padilla, Bonta is drawing massive support from Democratic voters, with 77% saying that they would back him, along with 38% on non-party voters, and 5% of Republicans.

Unlike the other races polled by the IGS on Friday, there is a close race for second place. Attorney Eric Early and General Consul Nathan Hochman are currently only separated by 4 points, with Early currently at 16% and Hochman at 12%. While both candidates each have only 1% of Democrats in support of them, Early is leading amongst GOP voters 39%-30% and non-party voters 15%-8%. 19% of voters remain undecided on the race as a whole however, including 20% of Republicans and a quarter of non-party voters remaining unsure so close to the election.

“As expected, conservatives in California will vote for a true conservative,” noted Eric Early campaign supervisor Mike Netter to the Globe on Friday. “An important telling point is that Rob Bonta is not at 50%. That makes it winnable in November. If you combine all the undecided voters and those voting for other candidates now, it will make for a  close and interesting race in November. We are very pleased where Mr. Early has put himself.”

Incumbents with large leads heading into primary

Eric Schickler, the co-Director of the IGS, said that the poll shows that it is currently encouraging for the Democratic incumbents, albeit with many voters not being excited about the races when compared to last years’ recall attempt of Newsom that drew national and international attention.

“The overall picture is pretty encouraging for the incumbents,” said Schickler. “In the aftermath of last year’s recall election, the statewide primaries this year have not galvanized voters’ attention. The incumbents are running well ahead of their challengers, and the main question is who will come in second under the top-two system, and whether the runner ups in June will be able to gain more traction by November.”

“It does speak to the challenges that a no party preference candidate faces. Republican voters want to vote for Republican candidates, just like Democratic voters vote for Democratic candidates. So then you’re basically relying on the pool of no party preference voters, and a lot of those folks are less interested in politics, less engaged. Some of them are quite informed, but often not as informed.”

However, some analysts pointed out that it is only June, and some factors, like a worsening economy, worsening crime, the George Gascon recall likely appearing on LA County ballots in November, and the recall of progressive office holders such as San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin may help non-incumbents in the long-term.

“This is only the primary,” explained Clair Vollmer, a pollster in Central California, to the Globe on Friday. “There’s a lot of factors at play, especially for the Attorney General race. And if things start going South for some of the incumbents heading into September and October, we may be looking at some very close races.”

The Primary election is to be held in California on Tuesday June 7th.

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9 thoughts on “New Poll Has Incumbents Showing Strong Primary Leads For Gubernatorial, Senate, AG

  1. What is wrong with Californians that they would not see through the likes of Newsom & Bonta and would want more of the same illiberal nonsense trying to pass for sound governance?

    1. The same that gave Jerry his 3rd and 4th terms. They made the model the Nation followed in 2020 back in 2000.

  2. Sampling error on these “polls” – I’ve been getting a LOT of phone calls from unidentified numbers recently, none of which I pick up, as it’s election season and I don’t want to be bothered – I’ve done my homework and my ballot will be cast IN PERSON on Tuesday (Election DAY, not Election SEASON)
    My hypothesis is that these “polls” are sampled from people who answer all their phone calls, take all their “vaccinations” and “boosters” and vote Democrat…
    I believe we’re in for a surprising primary, UNLESS we get “Dominioned” again, but with the release of “2000 Mules”, I believe a LOT of conservative voters are not playing along with the Democratic Party’s plans to “harvest” or misappropriate vote-by-mail ballots left in unsecured, unmonitored California drop boxes…
    YMMV and please stay tuned….

    1. I’m with you, CD9. I wouldn’t put too much stock in these numbers and I hope voters will not. Trying to be as objective as possible, they strike me at first glance as odd and likely inaccurate. “Even in California,” which you might notice we’re beaten over the head with every two seconds; you know, that we’re just SOOOOO Democrat here! I really really doubt it at this point. But haven’t had a chance to look at the poll methodology yet.

  3. Biggest surprise here is that Dahle is leading Shellenberger, given Shellenberger’s coverage by many conservative-leaning media outlets….

    1. CD9 – I don’t see how this poll could be balanced or representative of those who intend to vote.
      First off, it was an email-online poll, where “registered voters” were sent an email inviting them to participate. That eliminates a LOT of voters right from the get-go. I registered to vote the old fashioned way with a hard copy form decades ago and then changed my party preference in 2003, also with a hard copy form. In neither case did they have access to my email address. The first time we didn’t HAVE email, DUH. Unknown how any polling operation could have since obtained my email address, although I admit it’s (annoyingly) possible. More than possible, ha. Also eliminated is the “don’t-bother-me” crowd, who tend to be more skeptical, or maybe sensible, and thus Republican, I would think.

      Second, only 3,438 of 5,210 (not clear whether the entire sample of invitees or actual respondents) were considered LIKELY voters. That seems like something that would skew the results, to me. The pollster said it was weighted, but it’s not clear HOW it was weighted.

      Third, there is the question of motor voter auto-registrations, which would include many many people who are not in this country legally, yes? The poll was also offered in Spanish, but only in English and Spanish, not any other language (of so many). So just exactly who IS the crowd sampled here? I have a layman’s general understanding of polling and statistics, but sometimes that’s enough. I wouldn’t want to rely on this poll. If anyone out there knows more and disagrees, please post.

  4. I believe that the folks who are polled do not really pay any attention and say they’ll vote for the names they recognize. Just a thought.

    1. I’ll bet you’re right and that’s a big part of it. Also people don’t want to admit who they are really going to vote for. And there are other considerations. Remember the Trafalgar Group pollsters who predicted Trump’s win? They did it by, for instance, asking the person polled who they thought their NEIGHBOR would be voting for and that turned out to surmount the embarrassment hump and be more predictive. That polling outfit is still innovative and accurate —- I’ve heard the guy who runs it a few times —– and I would rely on a Trafalgar poll more than any other these days. If we must have polls, that is. Although now that we’re in election-fraud-land it seems accurate polls might serve the purpose of shining a light on how much cheating there will be. For instance in the above IGS poll, if Gruesome only has 50% that’s a far cry from the 63% or whatever it was he received beating the recall which, after all, was only in Sept of last year. So for me they have a different function now. IF they are real polls done earnestly and honestly with good methodology.

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