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Ron Unz for U.S. Senate

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CA120: The Race for Second Place

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Credit: Tim Foster/Capitol Weekly
Credit: Tim Foster/Capitol Weekly
Great fights often have great names.

The Thrilla in Manila. The Rumble in the Jungle. The Race for Second Place.

Wait a second: The Race for Second Place?

Our recent Republican and Democratic primary polls suggest that Democrat Loretta Sanchez and Republican Ron Unz are in a tight race to place a very distant second to Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris in California’s U.S. Senate primary on June 7. It’s important: A second-place finish guarantees a spot on the November general election ballot.

In our poll of likely Republican primary voters, Unz led with 20%.

Among likely Democratic primary voters, Sanchez receives 15%, to Harris’ 54%.

If turnout comports with past presidential primary history, the electorate will be 44% Democrats and 35.5% Republicans, which means that both Unz and Sanchez are at perhaps 7% each overall, a figure that reflects support from their respective party’s members. When factoring in the large numbers of undecideds, that 7 percent may rise slightly to 8 percent for Unz and 9% for Sanchez, as shown in our table below.

The party distribution within the electorate reflects a fairly conservative turnout estimate, predicated mainly on having voted in at least two of the last three statewide primary elections, or in the November 2014 general election (which, in terms of numbers, may as well have been a primary because of the anemic turnout).

But assuming that Republican participation drops to 30% and Democrats increase to 50%, the race remains close if Unz can win the support of half of Republicans (15% of total vote) and Sanchez a third of Democrats (16.5%).

• Category: Senate Campaign