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Schiff, Porter lead early in California Senate race


Rep. Barbara Lee trails in third

Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28) and Rep. Katie Porter (CA-47) are in a virtual tie in the 2024 California Senate primary, a new poll from Emerson College Polling and Inside California Politics found.

A reported 14.5% of California voters surveyed said they would vote for Schiff if the March 2024 primary were held today, just 0.3 percentage points ahead of Porter.

The margin of error for the poll is 3 percentage points.

Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-12) placed a distant third with 6.2% percent of respondents.

Among Republican candidates, 4.3% of those surveyed said they would vote for veteran and entrepreneur James P. Bradley and another 2.8% favored attorney Eric Early.

No other candidate was favored by more than 2% of respondents. The poll was conducted between June 4-7.

California’s open primary system means candidates from both parties compete in the same primary and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, go on to the general election.

Porter was the favorite among voters under 50, especially those ages 18 to 34, 16.8% of whom said they would vote for Porter as opposed to 6.7% of those who said they preferred Schiff.

Older respondents tended to prefer Schiff. Among respondents 65 years of age or older, 27% said Schiff was their first choice.

47.5% of all respondents said they were still undecided and that number varies greatly between parties.

“…Only 34% (of registered Democratic voters) are undecided,” Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, said. “By contrast, 60% of Republicans are undecided and 58% of independent voters are undecided.”

When asked who they were leaning towards, undecideds don’t appear to strongly prefer any candidate in particular.

Additionally, among undecideds, 7.9% said they would prefer another candidate than the ones who have registered.

Name recognition and endorsements are also likely to shape the race.

“…It seems like every time I turn on the TV (Schiff) is there,” Democratic Strategist Ed Emerson said. “…He absolutely commanded the stage in Trump’s impeachments.”

Schiff, the more establishment Democrat of the three, also has the endorsement of a key California powerbroker: former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Porter, too, has made a name for herself nationally over the past few years through her use of visual aids and by asking pointed questions to business executives and government leaders in congressional hearings.

In contrast, Lee’s perhaps most prominent moment in Congress came more than 20 years ago when she was the only Congressmember to vote against broadly authorizing then-President George W. Bush’s military use of force in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Emerson said that beyond recognition, fundraising is also going to be a major factor.

“As far as someone taking the lead, it’s going to really come down to raising money,” Emerson said. “Federal money is hard to raise, and there are specific limits. We’ll see who’s got the skills for that.”