The race to succeed Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate in California will be decided by a coalition of white Republicans voting for the lesser of two evils and Latinos trying to “carry one of their own.”
The new poll shows Attorney General Kamala Harris leading with 27% of likely voters followed by Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez at 15%, and Republicans Assemblyman Rocky Chavez at 7, and two former California Republican party chairmen, Duf Sundheim and Tom Del Beccaro at 3%. If this trend continues until the primary date in June 2nd, both Harris and Sanchez will go on to the general election in the top-two-tier California system.
What will be more interesting is where all the Republican and Latinos voters will gravitate when they have to decide between Harris and Sanchez.
The poll shows that Harris is leading with an overall 27% and has a favorable 28% image with “whites,” a 55% “favorable” image among democrats.
However, among Latinos Harris has only an 18% preference while Sanchez has a 31%. Moreover, among Republican, Harris has only a 14% favorable image. Similarly, among Latinos, Republicans Rocky Chavez has an 11% preference while Del Beccaro and Sundheim have only 1% respectively.
What this may indicate is that Latinos will be more inclined to support a Latino candidate; so once Chavez is not in the ballot those Latino Republicans supporting him may gravitate to Sanchez and those Republican who have a low favorable view of Harris (14%) will have to decide between the Hispanic blue-dog democrat from Orange County and the black progressive from the Bay Area. Yes, race will still matters in politics in an Obama era.
And even though Republican may have favorable of 7% for Sanchez – and a 14% for Harris – both have a 48% unfavorability among GOPers, Republicans may see in Harris another black progressive Obama on the rise, and therefore, opting for the lesser of the two evils.
Many assume that the Senate race in the state will be a contest between progressive Bay Area politics and moderate Cali southerners like Los Angeles. But the racial composition of the state makes this assumption more complicated for democrats and Latinos who want more representation in Congress.
Latinos have a 25% share of registered voters, and in 2012 Latinos were 20% of the total turnout in the state, Republics in the state tend to have a higher turnout than democrats, Thus, a high turnout among Latinos supporting Sanchez, let’s say 60% – 70% in a presidential election may give Latinos their first female Latinos U.S. Senator from the golden state.
Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote.comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or @AlexGonzTXCA
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