The finding by PPIC that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa lead in the race for California governor is not news. But it’s an eye-opener to see that Dianne Feinstein is crushing state Senate leader Kevin DeLeon 2-to-1 in the race for her seat in the U.S. Senate.
Newsom leads Villaraigosa 23-to-18 percent in the survey by the Public Policy Institute of California, with Treasurer John Chiang and businessman John Cox at 9%, followed by Assemblyman Travis Allen at 6% and Delaine Eastin, the former Superintendent of Public Instruction, at 3%.
The only really interesting thing that jumped out in the guv race poll was that Villaraigosa is killing Newsom among Latinos, 41-to-11 percent. That’s a big margin. While Newsom is way ahead in the Bay Area, 40-to-7 percent. Villaraigosa leads in the Los Angeles region 31-to-24 percent and by 29-to-9 percent in the Inland Empire.
If Newsom and Villaraigosa are the leaders next June in the top-two primary, it will set up a classic liberal versus moderate statewide general election, with Newsom hoping to hold the white left and Villaraigosa pulling for Latinos and business-friendly moderates.
Note to Republicans: Since all the leading candidates are Democrats (your guys Cox and Allen are sucking wind), you could decide the outcome, a factor not lost on Villaraigosa, who has been cutting a slightly more conservative path than Newsom. Your chances of having a Republican to vote for in the fall are slim to none (and slim is on life support).
Left, Right and Center The Senate race presents deLeon with a much more difficult challenge. The race stands at 45-to-21 percent overall, with DiFi leading comfortably and a third of voters – most of them Republicans and independents wondering what to do — still undecided. Yet in that atmosphere, DeLeon is trying to run against Feinstein from the left, arguing that she’s been too soft on President Donald Trump.
But he’s even fighting uphill on that mission – Feinstein leads 66-to-16 percent among Democrats and 57-to-20 percent among liberals, for example. And when he turns to the general election, he’ll have to pull from the center and right. So, the more effective he is in the primary painting Feinstein as too conservative, the more he undercuts himself among voters in the general.
He could try to make the whole race about age except according to PPIC, Feinstein leads among voters aged 18-34 by 46-to-24 percent. Oops. And worse for deLeon, Feinstein is even beating him among Latinos, 48-to-26 percent — nothing like the ethnic edge Villaraigosa has over Newsom in the governor’s race.
What’s it all mean for anyone on the sidelines?
Democratic businessman and activist Tom Steyer will surely have to look at deLeon’s weak numbers and wonder if he’s missing a bet to buy himself into the race for Senate. But so too might billionaire Meg Whitman, the former chief of e-Bay and Hewlett Packard, who could easily self-finance a race against DiFi for the Senate. And as a pro-choice, anti-Trump Republican who’s just 61, compared to Feinstein’s 84, she would actually have a chance.
PPIC surveyed 1,704 California adult residents in English and Spanish, including 1,108 interviewed on cell phones and 596 on landline telephones, Nov. 10–19, The margin of error was ±4.3 percent for the 1,070 likely voters.