Capitol Alert

Kamala Harris expands lead over Loretta Sanchez for U.S. Senate

Kamala Harris has widened her advantage over fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez with seven weeks left in the campaign to succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer, according to a poll released late Tuesday.

Harris, the state attorney general, has opened a 22-point lead among likely voters, 42 percent to 20 percent, according to the survey by The Field Poll and the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She led by roughly 15 points in Field Polls taken in July and late May.

While Harris’ numbers have remained relatively flat, support for Sanchez is down from 26 percent in May. Undecided voters rose to 26 percent from 20 percent in that time.


Twelve percent told the poll they would not vote in the race, presumably because there are no Republicans on the ballot, said poll director Mark DiCamillo.

California’s first open U.S. Senate since 1992, when Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were first elected, held the promise of a free-spending, closely watched contest. But Harris, a darling of liberals and the Democratic establishment, and Sanchez, a more moderate congresswoman from Orange County, were the only realistic aspirants to emerge for the seat.

“What we have is a low-profile campaign between two Democrats,” DiCamillo said. “And Sanchez, the underdog, does not look to be making the kind of moves you would normally expect if they were making a serious effort to overtake the front-runner.

“It’s really sleepwalking to the election for this one.”

Sanchez in recent days has tried to disrupt Harris’ momentum by questioning her commitment to protecting the environment, students and low-income families and Latinos. But the uptick in vigor by the outspoken Sanchez has yet to register in polls.

Harris’ advantage is with both men and women and extends across all major regions of the state. She does better across all age ranges, education and income classes. Sanchez, who has the backing of well-known Republicans like Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, leads with GOP and conservative voters.

Latinos, a voting segment that previously broke strongly for Sanchez, are now evenly divided.

Harris’ growing familiarity with the group now gives her a better favorability rating among Latinos than Sanchez. Harris is viewed favorably by 70 percent of Latinos compared with Sanchez’s 57 percent.

The two are scheduled to meet for one debate on Oct. 5 in Los Angeles.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

Related stories from Sacramento Bee