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Flood of GOP Senate Candidates Boosts Odds of Double Democrat Showdown in California

An abundance of Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in California is aiding the top two Democrats in the race, as demonstrated in new polls measuring the number of undecided voters.

The largest percentage of respondents in a new Field Poll, around a third, is made up of undecided voters when it comes to choosing a replacement for retiring Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The crowded 34-person U.S. Senate field in California is made up of 12 Republicans, seven Democrat, 11 nonaffiliated, two Libertarians, one Peace and Freedom, and one Green Party candidate.

Democrat Kamala Harris, the state’s Attorney General, leads significantly in several recent polls that put Democrat Rep. Loretta Sanchez in the second place position. Harris garners 30 percent support from likely primary election voters in the new Field Poll, while Sanchez pulls in 14 percent. Frontrunner Harris received the endorsement of veteran Democrat politician California Governor Jerry Brown in late May.

As Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Sen. Hillary Clinton continue to battle to the end in California, Sanchez holds an edge over Harris among Sanders supporters, according to a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll. Sanchez also excels with Latino voters but struggles with other demographics where Harris dominates. Likely primary voters surveyed in this poll support Harris over Sanchez 34-14 percent.

Republican consultant Mike Madrid told the Times that Sanchez benefits greatly from the flooded Republican field. Republican candidates Tom Del Beccaro and Duf Sundheim led the crowded pack of GOP Senate candidates with six percent support each in the USC/LAT poll. The California Field Poll shows a three-way tie between Del Beccaro, former state legislator Phil Wyman, and attorney and accountant Greg Conlon. Sundheim fell slightly behind in that survey.

Supporters of Sanchez were described as “not strongly in her camp” and in danger of being lured away to support another candidate, according to the Times. The USC/LAT poll put the number of undecided voters around a quarter of California voters.

In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll, Del Beccaro is at the head of the Republican pack with eight percent while no other Republican received more than five percent. Harris and Sanchez still come out well ahead with 37 percent and 19 percent of likely primary voters, respectively.

Del Beccaro has pointed to Bay area mega-donor Charles Munger Jr. as artificially propping up Sundheim with significant spending in negative independent expenditures according to Del Beccaro and a report from the Times. “Munger’s response has been to blame me for his failures and he will do anything to stop me from being the top Republican on June 7th, even if it means Republicans won’t have someone in the top two. In other words, Munger’s destruction of the party continues,” said Del Beccaro, citing a feud between himself and Munger, who has infused copious levels of campaign funds into select Republican candidates in California.

California operates a top-two primary system that allows the top two primary election vote-getters to advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation. Voters in the state began voting several weeks before the June 7 primary election day in both early and vote-by-mail balloting. Voting ends on election day, but mail ballots can be submitted up until election day.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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