A statewide survey released by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) on Thursday shows Democratic gubernatorial candidates Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom just five points ahead of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, tightening the race for who will replace soon-to-be termed out Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018.
Newsom is leading with the support of 23 percent of likely voters, according to the new poll. Villaraigosa has support from 18 percent of likely voters. However, the poll found that one third of likely voters were still undecided. The margin of error was 3.1%.
The same poll also found that State Treasurer John Chiang, also a Democrat, is in third place with nine percent support from likely voters. He is tied with San Diego businessman John Cox, a Republican. Following them is Republican State Assemblyman Travis Allen, with six percentage points, and finally Democrat Delaine Eastin, a former superintendent of public instruction, with three points.
Allen says he will defund sanctuary cities if he is elected as governor, and has also vowed to undo Gov. Brown’s gas tax.
The Golden State’s relatively new “top two” or “jungle” primary system allows the top two vote-getters to advance to the November runoff, regardless of political party. The San Jose Mercury News noted, “If the Republican candidates continue to poll poorly, that could mean California for the first time in modern history wouldn’t have a Republican candidate for governor on the November ballot, as in its last U.S. Senate race.”
The same poll found that incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is winning in her re-election race against California State Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) ,with 45% of likely voters supporting her, compared with 21 percent backing de León.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, PPIC President Mark Baldassare said De León’s biggest challenge is overcoming his lack of name recognition.
“I think it’s a wake-up call for De León,” Baldassare told the Los Angeles Times. “You can be a very high-profile person in Sacramento, but that doesn’t necessary mean that people around the state know who you are.”