Dana Watch: Polled Over

Illustration by Bob Aul

If anyone hoped that a long list of distinguished candidates for the 48th Congressional district seat might prevent incumbent Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s chest protector) from advancing beyond June’s primary election, a poll of likely voters dispels that notion.

In its poll conducted March 4-6, Change Research for Fight Back CA PAC received 688 responses from people who reside within coastal Orange County’s 48th district and indicated they will vote in the primary.

On a long ballot that listed all the candidates without descriptions, Rohrabacher received 35 percent of the vote, followed next by Democrats Harley Rouda and Laura Oatman. On a long ballot with descriptions, Rohrabacher got 29 percent while Democrat Hans Keirstead and Republican Scott Baugh tied at 12 percent. A narrow ballot that omitted Baugh showed Rohrabacher at 41 percent and Keirstead at 18 percent.

Keep in mind that with California’s “jungle primary” system, it is no longer top vote-getters from each political party who advance to the general election; it is the top two vote-getters period. Thus, the final showdown candidates could come from the same party—and there is a strong chance the pair will be Baugh and Rohrabacher since voters in the 48th have cast ballots for them for years.

That’s one takeaway of Change Research pollsters, who found:

• Rohrabacher is clearly atop the crowded primary field.

• The field of Democrats is splitting the vote.

• Second-place Republican Baugh polls at about the same level as the leading Democrats on the long ballot.

This suggests that if all of the possible candidates run in the primary, Baugh and Rohrabacher could potentially be the top two vote-getters, advancing to the general and leaving Democrats out altogether.

The inclusion of candidate descriptions saw some of the leading Democrats gain points. Keirstead picked up 6 points, and Omar Siddiqui scooped up 7 points.

For Republicans, with the inclusion of descriptions, Baugh gained 5 points and Rohrabacher lost 6 points.

In a narrowed field without Baugh, Rohrabacher is the clear leader, and Keirstead is the runner-up and Democratic leader. Siddiqui and Rouda are close behind, splitting the vote with 14 percent each.

The idea of too many Democrats on the ballot splitting the vote and leading to an all-GOP general election recently led to Oatman and Michael Kotick dropping out and publicly supporting Rouda. Boyd Roberts did the same, only he backed Keirstead, who also has the official endorsement of the state party.

Republicans fearing an all-Democrat November slate just led Stelian Onufrei to withdraw from the race and support Baugh.

However, because all the withdrawals happened after the March 9 filing period deadlines, the names of Oatman, Kotick and Onufrei remain on the June ballot with 13 other names.

Got Dana Watch fodder? Email mcoker@ocweekly.com.

OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.

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