The latest Field Poll, released Thursday, shows that in every single statewide contest that pits a Republican against a Democrat, the latter has a substantial lead. The only race that appears to be competitive as Election Day approaches is the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, which is a non-partisan office, and features a matchup between two Democrats.
At the top of the ticket, in the Governor’s race, popular incumbent Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has a commanding 21-point lead over his Republican opponent, Neel Kashkari, 54% to 33%. Brown has maintained a similar lead over Kashkari throughout the entire campaign season.
Some political pundits have said that perhaps the strongest two GOP contenders this year for statewide office are Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who is running for Controller, and Pete Peterson, who is running for Secretary of State. Swearengin is currently losing to Democrat Betty Yee by twelve points. While the Secretary of State contest is closer, Democrat State Senator Alex Pedilla still enjoys a seven-point lead. Peterson would need undecided voters to break two-to-one his way to win that race–a tall order.
These numbers in the partisan races are not surprising, given the state’s latest registration figures as of early September: 43.4% Democrat, 28.2% Republican, 23.1% No Party Preference (with the remainder scattered among various third parties). Conventional wisdom is that especially in down-ticket races, in the absence of major funding for a candidate, voters tend to vote for the candidate in their own party, with decline-to-state voters splitting based on their personal biases.
The only race that appears to still be “in play” is the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Incumbent Tom Torlakson, who was elected in 2010 with major funding from the California Teachers Association, is seeking a second term. Once again the CTA is dumping millions into his re-election campaign. His opponent, Marshall Tuck, is running as an anti-establishment school reformer who is at odds with the teachers unions on many key issues. His campaign is also receiving seven figures of support. The Field Poll says that decided voters in that race are evenly split at 28% for both candidates–with four out of ten voters not having made up their minds at all in the race.
It may very well be that the definition of a “good year” for the California Republican Party in 2014 will be picking up Congressional seat or two, and adding seats in the state legislature to go from superminority to near-superminority status. (And then, in 2016, trying to not to lose these seats on a Presidential year.)
The Field Poll was completed October 15-28 among 1,536 registered voters via live telephonic interviews.