Capitol Alert

Pick a Democrat for U.S. Senate? No way, say more than a million Californians

In this Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, California Senate Democratic candidate Rep. Loretta Sanchez speaks during a debate against California Attorney General Kamala Harris, in Los Angeles.
In this Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, California Senate Democratic candidate Rep. Loretta Sanchez speaks during a debate against California Attorney General Kamala Harris, in Los Angeles. AP

In the run-up to Tuesday’s election, huge percentages of California Republicans told public pollsters they would sit out the U.S. Senate race rather than choose between two Democrats – Attorney General Kamala Harris and U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

Apparently, according to preliminary ballot counts, they weren’t kidding.

Wednesday morning tallies had 8.9 million California voters casting ballots in the presidential race at the top of the ticket. But only 7.75 million of them weighed in on the Senate contest, which Harris won handily. That’s a drop-off of more than 1.1 million voters, or more than 12 percent.

Far more voters cast ballots on each of the 17 propositions. Even 8.2 million made a choice on Proposition 59, the low-key, purely advisory measure about federal campaign finance law.

(The numbers for all races will rise significantly in the coming weeks as election officials process and count hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots that were either turned in on or postmarked by Election Day, as well as provisional ballots.)

The Senate race marked the first statewide contest featuring two members of the same party since California approved the “top-two” primary system in 2010. Republicans have complained that the system can leave them without a viable choice in the general election.

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