These Candidates Are Neck And Neck In a Senate Showdown

Steve Garvey, a Republican and former Los Angeles Dodgers star, faces challenges in consolidating GOP support in California’s race for the U.S. Senate. This struggle could potentially benefit Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, according to a recent poll conducted by researchers at USC, CSU, Cal Poly, and Pomona Long Beach.

The poll, exclusively shared with POLITICO, reveals that Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff is leading the race with the support of 25 percent of likely voters. As a result, the final weeks leading up to the Senate primary will likely focus on the tight battle for second place between Porter and Garvey, as both candidates secured the support of 15 percent of likely voters.

California’s top two primary systems will decide the candidates moving on to the November general election. This process could lead to a direct contest between Schiff and a Republican contender or trigger a costly contest within the Democratic party between Schiff and another leading Democrat. Currently, Rep. Barbara Lee, the third significant Democrat in the race, has the backing of 7 percent of probable voters, while all other candidates from both parties are receiving 1 percent or less support.

Recent polls showed Garvey climbing to second place, but the latest survey hints that his momentum might be halting just as mail-in voting is about to begin. With a substantial 37 percent of Republican voters still undecided, this could advantage Porter.

Christian Grose, the lead pollster and a political science professor at the University of Southern California, suggests that Garvey’s underperformance may be surprising given his stature as a former Dodgers star. Grose notes that the poll was conducted after Garvey’s shaky performance at the first Senate debate, which may have negatively impacted his numbers. During the debate, Porter and Schiff ridiculed Garvey’s noncommittal stance on whether he would vote for former President Donald Trump again.

The outcome of the general election could depend on GOP voter turnout and the ability of Garvey or Porter to connect with the millions of undecided California voters, including a significant number of Latino and Asian voters. Additionally, progressive Democrats’ support for Lee, the most outspoken progressive candidate, versus their potential migration to Porter or Schiff in the final weeks could also play a crucial role.

The survey, conducted from January 21-29, included 1,416 online respondents randomly selected using voter records and surveyed in English and Spanish. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.