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Schiff and Porter lead polls for U.S. Senate seat in California


California has more registered Republicans than any state in the union, but that doesn’t mean any of them will advance to the runoff for the US Senate seat.

Six months before the March 5 primaries, two Democrats are set to face off next year to decide who will replace longtime Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, according to a new poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Government Studies co -sponsored by The Times.

The prospect of former Dodger and Padres legend Steve Garvey entering the race as a top Republican hasn’t clouded that dynamic, the poll found.

Representatives Adam B. Schiff of Burbank and Katie Porter of Irvine are neck and neck, with support from 20% and 17% of likely voters, respectively, according to the poll. Both men have taken a considerable lead over their other top Democratic challenger, Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, who sits at 7%.

Garvey, who has not announced whether he will run, and Republican businessman James Bradley also each had 7% support in the poll. Attorney Eric Early, a perennial GOP candidate, sits at 5%. About a third of likely voters polled said they were undecided.

Under California’s first-two system, the two candidates with the most votes in the primary, regardless of party affiliation, qualify for the general election.

“The more Republicans (in the race), the lower their chances of putting someone in the top two, just because they’re splitting everyone’s support,” Times poll director Mark DiCamillo said. -Berkeley and longtime California specialist. sounder.

“You can change that with a lot of campaigning, but they don’t seem to be as competitive right now for the top two positions,” he added.

The Early Republican party was favored by 18% of likely voters in a Times-Berkeley poll in May, but saw support plummet throughout the summer. In this survey, Porter was right behind him with 17% support, followed by Schiff with 14% and Lee with 9%.

Garvey was not included in the previous poll but has been mulling his candidacy all summer, his adviser Andy Gharakhani said. “Steve is seriously considering running in this race and speaking directly with voters about the issues that matter most to them,” Gharakhani said.

Despite several months of campaigning, Lee remains less well known than Schiff and Porter, with half of likely voters having no opinion on her. Although she is the only black candidate in the race, she trails among likely black voters with 16% support, behind Schiff’s 30% and Porter’s 21%.

One factor likely to upset the race is whether Feinstein will be able to complete his term. She was hospitalized with shingles for a week from late February. Illness kept her in San Francisco for months. The dozens of Senate votes she missed, including several on the justices, led some members of her party, including Representative Ro Khanna of Fremont, to ask her to stand down.

Last month, she was hospitalized again after a fall at her home in San Francisco.

If Feinstein were to leave before the end of his term, Governor Gavin Newsom would have to appoint a temporary replacement. After nominating a man to fill Vice President Kamala Harris’ former Senate seat, the governor pledged to choose a black woman if Feinstein’s seat became vacant.

Newsom did not back anyone in the Senate race, but some Lee supporters said he should nominate her if the seat becomes vacant.

When asked what Newsom should do if Feinstein steps down, 51% of likely voters said the governor should appoint someone who is willing to run for a full Senate term in the 2024 election.

A quarter of likely voters said he should nominate someone willing to serve an interim term and not seek a full term. The others had no opinion.

Schiff and Porter remained silent on the matter, simply wishing Feinstein the best in his recovery.

The race between Schiff, a former prosecutor first elected to the House in 2000, and Porter, a UC Irvine law professor first elected in 2018, is shaping up to be a generational clash.

Likely voters over 65 favor Schiff over Porter, 29% to 12%, according to the poll. Those under 50 tend to favor Porter: She leads Schiff 23 to 14 percent among likely voters aged 30 to 39 and 27 to 6 percent among those 18 to 29.

That could pose a problem for Porter: She does best among those who, though likely to submit a ballot, often don’t show up at election time. A recent analysis of voting in the state from the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that regular voters tend to be white and older than the average Californian. Frequent voters were also disproportionately over the age of 50.

But having the election in a presidential year could mitigate that disadvantage, said Sara Sadhwani, a politics professor at Pomona College.

“One of the things we tend to see in younger voters…is an increase in turnout in a presidential election year,” she said.

Porter has done a great job at committee hearings creating viral moments that appeal to young voters on social media, Sadhwani said. The question, however, is whether those voters will show up in the March primaries.

Schiff leveraged his high profile role as former President Trump’s major antagonist to bolster his Senate bid. That seems to be paying off with some Democratic voters. He drew additional attention when GOP House Republicans voted to censure Schiff for, in their view, going too far in his efforts against Trump – a rebuke Schiff described as a badge of honor.

“This was an opportunity for Schiff to once again remind California voters of the important role he played in trying to save our democracy,” Sadhwani said, adding that the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy had only “contributed to amplifying this profile” with censorship. vote.

Schiff is by far the most well-known candidate in this area, with only 24% of likely voters having no opinion on him. He got favorable opinions from 43% of likely voters surveyed, while 32% had an unfavorable opinion.

Porter is less well known, with 43% of likely voters saying they had no opinion of her, 38% saying they liked her, and 19% saying they had an unfavorable opinion of her.

She leads voters in Orange County, where she lives, but Schiff leads in the San Francisco Bay Area. The two are neck and neck in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the state.

The fact that the two leading Democrats hail from Southern California is a change from the state’s previous model, noted Chris Lehane, chief strategy officer at Haun Ventures, who previously served as an adviser to Governor Gray Davis and the Vice President Al Gore.

“Historically, Democratic primaries have been won by a northern Democrat rather than southern Democrats,” Lehane said. “I think the real question is whether that’s still the case.”

“When you think 30 years ago when Feinstein first ran, it was a purple state. It is now a deep blue state. Everything has become nationalized,” he added. “It looks like there’s no more Giants vs. Dodgers dynamic.”

Schiff leads Porter 31 to 26 percent among registered Democrats polled. Among likely voters who identify as strong Democrats, he leads her by 35% to 27%.

The two are essentially even among registered voters with no party preference or as members of a small party.

The Berkeley Institute poll interviewed 6,030 registered California voters online, in English and Spanish, from August 24-29, including a weighted subsample of 3,113 people considered likely to vote in the California primary. March.

Because survey results are weighted to match census and voter registration criteria, estimates of the margin of error can be imprecise; however, the results for the sample of likely voters are estimated to have a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points in either direction.