Capitol Alert

California 'blue wave' this November? Not so fast, poll says

Columnist Peter Cavanaugh calls those following President Donald Trump, seen on the 2016 campaign trail in Fresno, “Banana Republicans.”
Columnist Peter Cavanaugh calls those following President Donald Trump, seen on the 2016 campaign trail in Fresno, “Banana Republicans.” Fresno Bee file

Californians are enthusiastic about voting this year in key battleground congressional races, but Democrats eying Republican-held seats in hopes of flipping the House shouldn't get their hopes up too soon.

That's among the conclusions in the latest poll from the Public Policy Institute of California. It shows Republican likely voters who dominate conservative California strongholds prefer Republican candidates by a 2-1 margin, and the majority — 62 percent — want their members of Congress to work with President Donald Trump.

"To me, that means if you're a Democratic candidate running in those districts, you're going to have to have something more to say than we want a change from Donald Trump," said PPIC President and CEO Mark Baldassare.

The poll analyzed 10 House districts rated as competitive by the Cook Political report, including open seats in traditionally conservative-leaning Orange County. "There might be targets of opportunity" for Democrats, Baldassare said, but the poll was overall favorable for Republicans, even though 7 of the 10 went for Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016.

"They may have gone Democratic in the last presidential race, but they did also elect Republicans to Congress," he said.

Of the 10 competitive seats, nine are held by Republican incumbents. Two of the GOP incumbents are vacating their seats — Reps. Darrell Issa of Vista and Ed Royce of Fullerton. The Democratic seat is held by Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, who represents the 7th Congressional District, which covers suburban Sacramento County.

The remaining Republicans running for re-election, concentrated in the Central Valley and Orange County, are Reps. Jeff Denham of Turlock, Steve Knight of Lancaster, Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, David Valadao of Hanford, Mimi Walters of Laguna Niguel, Tom McClintock of Elk Grove and Duncan Hunter of Alpine.

Though those areas are still deep red, Democrats statewide are more enthusiastic about voting than Republicans (56 percent to 42 percent). That could be a good sign for them come November. Democratic strategists say the key this fall is motivating Democrats, who haven't historically been reliable voters, to turn out, and capturing independents.

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SENATE RACE: The poll still has Sen. Dianne Feinstein far ahead of her chief Democratic rival, state Sen. Kevin de León. She has the support of 42 percent of likely voters to his 17 percent, it found.

SINGLE-PAYER: It showed 53 percent of likely voters support a government-run single-payer health care system, until taxes are mentioned, when it then falls to 41 percent. And high tax increases would be necessary to make such a system work.

IMMIGRATION: The poll also found 67 percent of likely voters believe immigrants benefit the state "because of their hard work and job skills," though more Democrats (86 percent) have that view than Republicans (75 percent).

GARCIA OUT FROM CHAIR OF WOMEN'S CAUCUS: Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who returned to work Wednesday, said she supports Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, officially taking over her role as chairwoman of the California Legislative Women's Caucus. Eggman became the acting interim chair when Garcia took a voluntary unpaid leave of absence from the Legislature in February.

Garcia sent a letter to the women's caucus this week saying "for the sake of ensuring the caucus has leadership that can give it all the attention it merits, I will be supporting the current leadership structure so I can focus on the needs of my constituents."

BROWN AT CHAMBER: Gov. Jerry Brown will speak this morning at the Sacramento Host Breakfast, a gathering of hundreds of the state's leaders in business, government, education and agriculture at the Sacramento Convention Center.

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