Monday, January 8, 2024








        The three prominent congressional Democrats in the running for the U.S. Senate seat long held by the late and formidable Dianne Feinstein act as if they believe an all-Democrat November runoff is inevitable.


        But that may not happen.


        None of the three contesting Congress members – not Adam Schiff of Burbank, Katie Porter of Irvine or Barbara Lee of Oakland – so much as acknowledges that Republican Steve Garvey is in the running.


        But polls that startle some Democrats show Garvey now running second in this four-horse primary race despite his lack of much television advertising and his dearth of high-profile campaigning.


        That’s because Garvey, formerly an all-star first baseman who helped first the Los Angeles Dodgers and later the San Diego Padres into the World Series, possesses more name recognition than all three Democrats combined.


        Yes, that’s even true for Schiff, who led two impeachment efforts against former President Donald Trump, becoming a national Democratic hero in the process.


        Garvey’s name recognition allows him to take advantage of the simple math that governs many California primary elections, especially those at the statewide level like this one.


        That arithmetic says almost half of all registered voters call themselves Democrats, while about one-fourth list themselves with no party preference (NPP) and another quarter identify as Republicans.


        In a typical primary, slightly over half the NPP voters end up casting ballots for Republicans. Because the GOP has lately included very few politicians of major prominence, those votes have usually been splintered. But the latest surveys show Garvey, a political neophyte at 75,  has managed to gain support from most Republicans. So the GOP vote will likely not be as divided as it often is in the election that begins soon, when mail ballots arrive in most mailboxes.


        But the Democrats will be as fractured as ever. A January poll conducted for Politico and Morning Consult showed Schiff leading the field with 26 percent support to 14 percent for Porter and Lee with 12 percent. Meanwhile, Garvey snuck into second place in this survey at 15 percent, meaning he’s getting about 60 percent of all GOP support. As the primary grows closer, Garvey figures to draw more support away from other Republicans like the initial GOP leader, lawyer and die-hard Donald Trump backer Eric Early.


        Schiff’s lead in the Politico/Morning Consult survey was his largest in any poll yet, as many voters listed earlier as undecided began to make up their minds.


        He also differentiated himself from the field by refusing to call for an early cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war, saying he agrees with Israeli politicians who say the fighting must continue until Hamas is decimated.


        Meanwhile, Garvey has hinted at a similar stance. But he has spoken mostly in generalities, not pretending to be a political expert.


        Because most Schiff stances are congruent with those of Porter and Lee, with only a shade of difference on the Middle East, chances are Schiff would have little trouble consolidating former Porter and Lee supporters behind him in the November vote, even if Garvey becomes the first Republican in 10 years to make a California Senate runoff ballot.


        Even with millions of voters still undecided, the three Democrats combine to draw support from more than 50 percent of likely voters today. That phenomenon figures to turn into a majority of about 60 percent for whichever Democrat makes the runoff, if just one does.


        But if two Democrats make it through to November, the fall race could be much tighter than if it involves a Republican.


        For that would likely mean either Porter or Lee would be contesting Schiff, and either figures to draw a large groundswell of support from liberal women.


        All of which means this race should only grow more interesting and lively as the primary nears and the contest then moves toward November. The eventual outcome is easily predictable if just one Democrat makes the runoff, but very difficult to forecast if the ultimate matchup pits two Democrats against each other in a third consecutive California Senate race.




    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment