Two Republicans, businessman John Cox and Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), have now passed former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the race for California governor, according to a new poll.
Cox has 18 percent of likely voters and Allen has 16 percent, according to the University of California Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) Poll, as reported by the Fresno Bee. Villaraigosa is a distant fourth, at just 9 percent.
All trail Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who is at 30 percent. But Villaraigosa’s fall is stunning. He had 17 percent of likely voters in December, according to the poll. But support for the Republicans is now surging.
Under the rules of California’s “top two” or “jungle” primary, the top finishers in the June 5 primary will advance to the general election in November, regardless of party. Most media coverage has presumed that the race would be a two-Democrat fight between Newsom and Villaraigosa.
However, if Cox or Allen defeats Villaraigosa, then the race would resemble a traditional two-party fight — potentially drawing more Republican voters to the polls.
That, in turn, could also affect national politics. Low turnout by Republicans could ensure that Democrats flip several congressional seats in California, in districts represented by Republicans where Hillary Clinton won in 2016. However, if Republicans have candidates to vote for on the statewide ballot, they may turn out in stronger numbers — which could help the party save enough congressional seats to keep control of the U.S. House.
The Berkeley IGS poll also showed an unknown Republican, James Bradley, in a statistical tie for second place for U.S. Senate with State Sen. Kevin de Léon (D-Los Angeles). Both are challenging incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.