Republican businessman John Cox has strengthened his second-place position in the race for California governor, making him likely to qualify for the general election against Democrat Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom after the June 5 primary, according to a new poll.
The Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies has Newsom at 33 percent of likely voters and Cox at 20 percent, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Democrat whom pundits thought likely to finish second and qualify for an all-Democrat general election, is a distant third at 13 percent. He is effectively tied with conservative Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), who polls at 12 percent.
The margin of error for the poll has not yet been reported.
The poll’s director says that President Donald Trump’s endorsement has made a difference in the race, helping Cox open up his lead against Allen, according to the Bee:
“We think it’s likely to be Cox against Newsom in the general election,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll.
The poll, conducted after President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Cox, showed Republican support coalescing for Cox over the other leading Republican in the race, Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach. In April, they were nearly neck-and-neck, with Cox at 47 percent and Allen at 38 percent among Republicans. The latest poll had Cox at 53 percent to Allen’s 32 percent.
“It seems Trump’s endorsement put Cox over the top,” DiCamillo said. “He’s the president, and the Republican Party is very much supportive of Donald Trump. It’s his party these days, so when Trump weighs into the California gubernatorial primary, I think that has an impact on Republican voters.”
Republicans are increasingly hopeful that if Cox qualifies for the general election, the presence of a GOP candidate on the statewide ballot will improve turnout in November, helping to save vulnerable congressional seats in the state and hence keeping Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from re-taking the Speakers’ gavel in the House of Representatives.
Some Democrats are backing Allen with mailings designed to look like they come from Republican sources, in an attempt to split the GOP vote and allow Villaraigosa to squeak through.
Voting by mail has already begun, and in-person voting will be held Tuesday.
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.