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Poll Shocker: Republican Could Face Newsom in Governor Showdown
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 6 years ago on
March 22, 2018

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A poll released at 9 o’clock Wednesday night shows that an anticipated all-Democrat showdown to determine Gov. Jerry Brown’s successor might not materialize.
San Diego businessman John Cox, a Republican, is gaining traction with voters, according to the latest survey of likely June primary voters conducted by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.


News Analysis
Bill McEwen
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, is the top choice of likely voters in the statewide survey. He is garnering 28% support. Cox follows at 14% and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is third, with 12% support. Cox nearly doubled his 7% support in the previous PPIC poll.
For Villaraigosa, this is a significant drop and suggests that the more voters get to know him, the less they support him. He polled at 21% in the January PPIC poll and was virtually tied with Newsom.
In addition, Cox appears to be benefiting from the self-financing of his campaign and the large number of Democrats in the field. Cox has given $3 million to his campaign chest and says that he will spend up to $1 million more. His GOP rival, Assemblyman Travis Allen, is struggling for contributions and is largely waging his “Shake Up California” campaign on social media.
But, for all of the candidates trailing Newsom, one number from the PPIC poll looms large and offers hope of qualifying for November’s general election. As was the case in January, 24% of voters are undecided.

Feinstein Way Ahead of de León

In the state’s other high-profile race, Dianne Feinstein continues to dominate state Sen. Kevin de León, a fellow Democrat, in her quest for a fifth term in the U.S. Senate. Feinstein, a centrist Democrat, is attracting 42% compared to 16% for the more liberal de León. The poll shows that 39% of voters in that race are undecided.

“Gavin Newsom and Dianne Feinstein have solid leads in the gubernatorial and senate races. Yet many voters remain undecided, raising questions about the outcomes in the top-two primary.” — PPIC’s Mark Baldassare
“Gavin Newsom and Dianne Feinstein have solid leads in the gubernatorial and senate races,” said Mark Baldassare, CEO and president of PPIC. “Yet many voters remain undecided, raising questions about the outcomes in the top-two primary.”
Here’s how other gubernatorial candidates are faring: Allen is at 10% followed by Democrats John Chiang (6%) and Delaine Eastin (5%). Pollsters did not ask voters about late Democratic entry Amanda Renteria.

Strong Support for Water Bond

Proposition 68 to fund water infrastructure projects is on the June ballot. Two-thirds of likely voters (66%) say they would vote for it.
Democrats (78%) overwhelmingly favor the bond, as do a strong majority of independents (66%). Republican support, however, is lukewarm (51%).

High-Speed Rail Support Erodes

By comparison, fewer likely voters (32%) say the high-speed rail project is very important to California’s future. Among registered voters, Democrats (67%) are more likely than independents (48%) and far more likely than Republicans (28%) to back high-speed rail.

Much More in Poll for Political Junkies

Go to the PPIC home page at this link to access the poll, which includes extensive information on state and national issues.

Polling Methodology

Findings in the PPIC report are based on a survey of 1,706 California adult residents, including 1,193 interviewed on cell phones and 513 interviewed on landline telephones. Interviews took an average of 18 minutes to complete. Interviewing took place on weekend days and weekday nights from March 4–13, 2018. The sampling error is plus or minus 3.4% percent.
View GV Wire’s video interviews with the candidates at these links:

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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