After months of hand wringing by state GOP officials that Republicans could be shut out of the November races for governor and U.S. Senate, a new poll gives hope of avoiding that electoral calamity.
A UC Berkeley Institute of Government Studies (Berkeley IGS) survey found that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is strengthening his grip on first place with support from 30 percent of likely voters, while two Republicans, businessman John Cox and Orange County Assemblyman Travis Allen are second and third with 18 and 16 percent support respectively.
Slipping into fourth place is former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who clocks in with just 9 percent, followed by state Treasurer John Chiang at 7 percent and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin at 4 percent. Just 13 percent of likely voters say they are undecided.
"There is a theory that without a Republican in one of the top two spots, GOP turnout will be depressed in November." said California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte. "That said, we’ve never had an experience like that since the jungle primary (top-two primary) has been in effect."
But Brulte added, "I do think you can make a case that not having a Republican there is unhelpful."
Cox has doubled his support from the last Berkeley IGS poll in December, when he had just 9 percent support. Allen has also advanced from 9 percent in December, indicating that Republican voters are moving out of the undecided column as the June primary nears.
Cox, who has plowed at least $3 million into his own campaign, is running a TV ad featuring pigs feeding at a trough, representation of the "special interests" and "unions" he says have a corrupting influence in Sacramento.
Allen, whose last campaign finance report showed just $135,534 in the bank, is running a scrappy campaign aimed at supporters of President Trump and his get-tough-on-illegal-immigration rhetoric.
In the other top of the ballot race for the U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein maintains her lead with support from 28 percent of likely voters.
State Sen. Kevin de León, author of California's controversial sanctuary state law, is far behind with 11 percent, followed by a completely unknown Republican, James P. Bradley with 10 percent. Bradley, who lists his occupation as chief financial officer, didn't even file a campaign finance report for the first quarter of 2018.
The Berkeley IGS survey asked voters their preference after being read a list of all 32 candidates running for the U.S. Senate.
A relatively large portion of voters, 37 percent, say they are still undecided. While Feinstein seems secure in her re-election, the fact that more than a third of voters say they haven't made up their minds is an indication of lukewarm enthusiasm for the four-term incumbent.
But Feinstein's troubles are nothing compared with Villaraigosa, whose campaign seems to be driving in reverse, at least according to this poll. His 9 percent support is roughly half the 17 percent he got in the December 2017 IGS poll.