Poll: Rice, Harris lead a wide open field for Boxer’s seat

Democrat Barbara Boxer’s announcement that she will not seek reelection to the U. S. Senate next year has resulted in a long list of current and former political officeholders mentioned in the media and within political circles as possible candidates to succeed her.

The latest statewide Field Pollasked a random sample of likely voters whether they would be inclined or not inclined to support each of eighteen possible candidates in the 2016 U.S. Senateelection. The results indicate that at this early stage voters appear open to supporting a wide range
of candidate possibilities.

The full survey and its methodology are available here.

Two individuals in this test receive the highest levels of potential voter support. They are Republican Condoleezza Rice, former U. S. Secretary of State (49%) and Democratic State Attorney General Kamala Harris (46%). Harris is the only person to date to have formally announced her candidacy in the Senate race.

However, large proportions also say they are inclined to support a number of other potential candidates were they to enter the race. For example, more than one in three likely voters say they would be inclined to support each of fiveother Democratic possibilities. They include Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (39%), California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (38%),Congresswoman Jackie Speier (36%), Congressman John Garamendi (36%), former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (35%), and former Congresswoman Jane Harman (35%). Ten others –six Republicans and four Democrats – tested in the poll also receive the backing of between 20%and 30% of likely voters statewide.

Early voter support is very much related to the party of the voter and that of the potential candidates. Large proportions of Democratic voters are inclined to support each of the eleven Democratic candidate possibilities, but most are disinclined to support the seven Republicans tested.

Similarly, large proportions of Republicans are inclined to back each of the potential Republican candidates, but are disinclined to support the eleven Democrats.

As might be expected, voters of both parties are much more inclined to back candidates of their own political party than those affiliated with the opposite party. The results show that likely Democratic voters are more likely to be inclined to support each of the eleven Democratic candidates tested, but are strongly disinclined to any of the seven Republican possibilities.

Early Democratic voter support is currently highest for Harris at 74%. But, majorities of Democratic likely voters are also inclined to back Sanchez (64%), Padilla (61%), Speier (58%), Villaraigosa (57%), Garamendi (54%) and Harman (52%), were they to become candidates.

Republicans also much more inclined to support candidates of their own party
Support for each of the possible Republican U.S.Senate candidates increases dramatically amongGOP voters. Nearly three in four GOP likely voter
s (74%) are inclined to support Rice. In addition,large proportions of Republican voters also say they would be inclined to back Wyman (51%),
Sundheim (46%), Konnyu (45%), Del Beccaro (41%), Swearengin (41%) and Chavez (40%).

Large majorities of Republicans are not inclined to back any of the eleven Democrats.

Preferences across other key voter subgroups

a. Preferences of no party preferences and minor party registrantsRice, a Republican, receives the largest proportion of early vote support from no party preference voters or those affiliated with a minor party (54%). Three Democrats – Harris (42%), Harman (37%) and Garamendi (34%) – receive the next highestproportions of support among this voter segment.

b. Preferences of Latino voters

Latinos are more likely to support Villaraigosa (60%) than any of the other potential U.S. Senatecandidates. However, three other Democrats also receive the backing of 50% or more of likelyLatino voters. They include Padilla (54%), Harris (52%), and Sanchez (51%). Other possible candidates who would receive significant Latino votesupport are Rice (48%), Harman (48%), Speier (47%), Tauscher (46%), Ruiz (45%), Becerra (45%), Schiff (44%), and Garamendi (42%).

c. Preferences of white non-Hispanic voters
The two potential candidates receiving the largest proportion of early vote support among white non-Hispanic voters are Rice (52%) and Harris (42%).

Others receiving greater than 25% support amongwhite non-Hispanics in the early going include Sanchez (32%), Garamendi (32%), Padilla (32%),
Speier (31%), Harman (29%), and Villaraigosa (26%).

d. Preferences of Southern California voters
Rice, at 53%, and Harris, at 46%, receive the most backing among Southern California voters at this time. Next in order of preference are Sanchez (39%), Padilla (39%), Garamendi (35%), Harman (35%), Villaraigosa (33%), Speier (31%), and Schiff (31%).

e. Preferences of Northern California voters

Harris (47%), Rice (45%) and Speier (43%) are receiving the highest level of support among Northern California voters. Others receiving the backing of greater than one in three Northern Californians are Sanchez (39%), Garamendi (38%), Padilla (38%), Villaraigosa (37%), and Harman (35%).
f. Preferences of female voters
The poll finds that about half of the likely female voters say they would be inclined to support Rice (52%) and Harris (49%). Other potential candidates receiving the backing of greater than four in ten females are Sanchez (43%), Speier (42%), and Garamendi (41%). About three in ten or more females also say they would back Harman (37%), Padilla (36%), Villaraigosa (35%), Schiff (33%), and Becerra (32%).

g. Preferences of male voters

Rice (47%), Harris (43%), and Padilla (41%) obtain the largest proportions of early backing from male likely voters. Next in order of preference are Villaraigosa (35%), Sanchez (33%), Harman (32%), Garamendi (30%), and Speier (30%).

Eds’ Note: The survey was completed January 26-February 16, 2015 among 972 likely voters in California. Interviews were administered by telephone using live interviewers in Engplish, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin and Vietnamese. The maximum sampling error was plus or minus 4.5 percent.

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