However, there is still danger of a Top Two lock-out
California 2020 recently commissioned a poll of the 49th Congressional District by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz, and Associates (FM3). This poll of 500 likely primary voters was taken from April 26 to April 29. Live interviews were conducted by cell phone and landline.
The results reinforce the continuing concerns about the crowded field of candidates in this primary election. With only a month left, no candidate leads by more than 16%. Democrats are still in danger of being locked out in November. The stakes are high and the outcome is still very much in doubt.
In a simple ballot test, Democrat Doug Applegate continues to lead with 16%. He has been the Democratic front-runner in every reputable poll taken this year. The new Republican front-runner is Diane Harkey at 14%. The other major candidates are bunched up in the middle of the pack with Sara Jacobs (D) at 12%, Mike Levin (D) at 11%, Rocky Chavez (R) at 10%, and Kristin Gaspar (R) at 9%. Paul Kerr (D) and Brian Maryott (R) trail with 6% and 4% respectively. 16% of voters are still undecided.
Doug Applegate is the most well-known Democratic candidate and Rocky Chavez is the best-known Republican. Applegate has a net favorability of +14 points (35% favorable, 21% unfavorable). Chavez has suffered a major drop in favorability from a similar poll conducted in February, from +11 points (30% favorable, 19% unfavorable) in February to +3 (25% favorable, 22% unfavorable) in the current poll.
Democrats Sara Jacobs and Paul Kerr significantly increased their awareness and name recognition by spending heavily on television, direct mail, online ads, and paid canvassing. Jacobs has a net favorability of +9 points (23% favorable, 14% unfavorable) while Kerr has a net favorability of +5 points (22% favorable, 17% unfavorable). Mike Levin’s net favorability is +14 points (22% favorable, 8% unfavorable).
Republican Diane Harkey has a net favorability of +8 points (16% favorable, 8% unfavorable).
Candidate Favorable/Unfavorable (With Comparison to February)
This race is still wide open.
Democratic and Independent primary voters will need to think seriously about strategic voting in this election to ensure that a Democrat makes it on to the final November ballot. That means voting for the Democratic front-runner or at least one of the top two Democrats.
Mail ballots drop next week. Mail voting will start as early as May 7th.
Documents to Download: Press Release and Public Polling Memo
Campaign finance data through mid-April: Kerr and Jacobs on track to spend their way into a 4-way split vote in June
The 49th district saw a stunning level of campaign spending in the first few months of 2018 with Paul Kerr dropping over $1.1 million on himself while Sara Jacobs and a friendly PAC spent over $1 million to support her.
We now know where Paul Kerr's dramatic 7-point increase in the latest SurveyUSA poll came from: A spend of over $1.1 million in a single quarter. Almost as much was spent on Sara Jacobs if you include the Women Vote! PAC spend through mid-April, but she didn't see the same sort of gains in the poll as Kerr.
Kerr and Jacobs are dramatically outspending Mike Levin and Doug Applegate in a race to the bottom that puts the 49th district at risk. We have continuously pointed out the danger of four Democrats splitting the vote in June which could hand the district to the Republicans. Now we're seeing this play out as the wealthy challengers buy their way into meaningful poll numbers and set up the Democrats for a near-even split vote in June.
It's worth noting that Sara Jacobs still has over $1 million in cash on hand.
The full campaign finance data dump for 2018 YTD is in the table below:
Notes: The data in these tables came from the FEC quarterly candidate filings plus the FEC 24/48 hour reports from PACs. Much of the $566,458 in PAC spending for Sara Jacobs happened in early April. So, the data is basically candidate spend from January 1 to March 31 plus PAC spend through April 20.
Full results from the April SurveyUSA poll of the 49th district (in PDF form) can be found in the file below:
Finally! The poll drought is over. SurveyUSA put a poll in the field in the 49th from April 6 to April 10, interviewing 535 likely primary voters. Here's how things stand with apples-to-apples comparisons to the February SurveyUSA poll (for every candidate over 1%):
1. Rocky Chavez (R), 16% (-1% from the February poll)
2. Doug Applegate (D), 12% (-6%)
3. Mike Levin (D), 9% (+1%)
4. Diane Harkey (R), 8% (-2%)
5. Paul Kerr (D), 8% (+7%)
6. Sara Jacobs (D), 7% (+2%)
7. Kristin Gaspar (R), 5% (-2%)
8. Brian Maryott (R), 5% (+3%)
9. Mike Schmitt (R), 3% (+3%)
On the Democratic side, the big surprises (for us) are that Doug Applegate is down 6 points and that Paul Kerr has moved up 7 points relative to where each of them stood in February. This is a true apples-to-apples comparison because the pollster is the same. Mike Levin and Sara Jacobs picked up a little ground (1% and 2% respectively) but that movement isn't much given the vast expenditures of money (in Sara's case) and effort (in Mike's case).
Our takeaway is that our vote-splitting fears are coming to pass with Paul Kerr and Sara Jacobs sapping momentum from the Democratic front-runners, sucking support away from Applegate and stalling Levin. We are rapidly approaching a point where all four Democrats are splitting the vote evenly. It's ugly.
The silver lining is that the Republicans are suffering the same problem as well, to a much greater extent than we expected. In February, Rocky Chavez and Diane Harkey were far ahead of the pack. Since then, Harkey has actually gone backwards, losing 2% and dropping to 4th place overall. Chavez is in 1st place but it's basically by default since he's down 1% relative to February. Meanwhile, Brian Maryott picked up 3% to clock in at 5% overall, Mike Schmitt came out of nowhere to get 3%, and Schoonover, Nordal, and Medway are all at 1%. The Republicans are (amazingly) in worse shape than the Democrats when it comes to vote splitting.
Other takeaways that we consider important:
So, what to make of all this? What can we do to make sure a Democrat gets through to November? We'll continue to try to turn out the vote, educate voters about the vote-splitting problem, and appeal to them to support the front-runner when the time comes. However, we are going to pause in our efforts to halt the momentum of Paul Kerr and Sara Jacobs given that they are now within a point or two of Mike Levin.
It's not at all clear who the Democratic front-runner will be in a month. We've been unable to slow down Paul Kerr and Sara Jacobs enough to keep Doug Applegate and Mike Levin strongly ahead. The four Democrats are getting closer and closer to splitting the vote evenly between them.
With no Kerr and Jacobs in the race, our suspicion is that we'd all start thinking about two Democrats on the November ballot right about now. However, with two weakened front-runners and two challengers spending like crazy and gaining ground, we are still in jeopardy.
We will have to count on Democratic turn-out and the fragmented Republican field to give us hope that a Democrat can take the second spot on the ballot in November.
Sara Jacobs and Paul Kerr are both very wealthy and are self-funding their campaigns, pouring millions of dollars into the primary election for the 49th district. Both of them are polling behind front-runners Doug Applegate and Mike Levin.
Jacobs and Kerr are very unlikely to win, but they can be spoilers in this election.
The torrent of cash from Jacobs and Kerr is weakening the two front-runners and increasing the odds that two Republicans will wind up on the final ballot in November.
Remember that California's Top Two primary system will move the top two vote-getters to the final ballot. If four Democrats split the vote, we're unlikely to wind up with any Democrats in November.
If you agree that it's time for Sara Jacobs and Paul Kerr to do the right thing and step aside, then sign the petition!
Many voters are still confused by the Top Two "Jungle Primary" system in California that has created the current jeopardy for Democrats in the race to replace Darrell Issa in the 49th congressional district.
Here are the three most important things to know about this primary election:
So, you can see why we've been trying to educate voters about how important the primary election is this year. If you want a real choice in November, you need to vote in June to make sure that at least one Democrat makes it on to the final ballot. And you need to be strategic in the way you vote. Throwing away a vote on a candidate who can't win in June simply increases the odds that two Republicans will go on the final ballot in November. This is tragic when all four Democratic candidates share the same policy positions on the important issues.
You can help get a Democrat on the final ballot by voting for the Democratic front-runner when the time comes. You'll know who that is because of polling. The current front-runners are Doug Applegate and Mike Levin with Sara Jacobs and Paul Kerr trailing. We'll publish all the polls as they come in, but you'll also see results in the news.
You have seen us try to reduce the number of Democratic candidates competing for your vote; we've been putting gentle but unrelenting pressure on Sara Jacobs and Paul Kerr to be heroes and patriots by stepping aside this year and giving the two Democratic front-runners the best shot at getting on the final ballot. Hopefully you now understand why this is important.
If you want to know more about the Top Two primary and what it means for us, we've provided a link below to a KCRA TV News story from 2014 that explains how the system works and also posted a link to a current Los Angeles Times article with more detail about the effects on the 2018 congressional races including the 49th district.
And here is the link to the LA Times article about the Top Two primary in 2018:
A reminder of what's at stake in the primary election for the 49th congressional district on June 5th.
With too many Democrats in the race and threatening to split votes, one of the only ways we can overcome is with increased turn-out (sheer numbers of voters). Please vote on June 5th.
And to revisit an earlier theme, please consider voting for the Democratic front-runner, no matter who that might be at the time of the election. The Democratic candidates are all aligned on the major issues. To get a real choice in November between a Democrat and a Republican, we must rally behind one candidate at the finish line. Vote for that choice! Please do your part to make sure the jungle primary does not put two Republicans on the November ballot because the Democrats split votes between four candidates.
A PAC known as "Fight Back California" commissioned a new poll of the 49th district for the period March 4-7. Change Research was the pollster. The results are very questionable, as we'll see below.
Like FM3, Change Research did an initial ballot test, putting the names of the potential candidates in front of likely voters and asking them which candidate would get their vote. The results from the simple ballot test are mostly consistent with what we've seen before. We say "mostly consistent" because relative to the mid-February polls, Chavez is polling a bit lower, Harkey is lower, Kerr has picked up steam (from low single digits to high single digits), and Gaspar has faded:
So far, so good, right? Well, things go seriously sideways from here in a way that casts serious doubt on the whole poll.
What got reported out to the world by "Fight Back California" from this poll was a table of results that bears no recognition to the chart above. The reason for the difference? The pollsters fed likely voters "information" about the candidates and asked them again how they would vote. You can do this sort of thing the right way... or the wrong way. The right way is how FM3 did their testing (see the FM3 poll results in the post before this one to get the full picture). The wrong way is to bias the information for or against a candidate or candidates, manipulating the results to get a certain outcome.
Just like the FM3 poll, Change Research followed up the simple ballot test by asking likely voters how they'd vote after they heard some information about the candidates.
However, the "Fight Back California"/Change Research results shifted in a really big way after "information" was given. This didn't happen with the FM3 poll, where support moved by a few points at most (either way) depending on the candidate.
What makes us quite skeptical of the results is that ALL candidates in the Change poll benefited from the "information" given to the likely voters except for Doug Applegate. After "information", Sara Jacobs is suddenly at 15% from 7%. Mike Levin is suddenly at 16% from 11%. Kerr got a two point lift. Chavez and Harkey got moderate lifts as well, four points for Chavez and five for Harkey. Poor Doug Applegate saw his support cut almost in half after the "information" was given, from 23% to 13%. Here is how the results look after this "information" was presented to the likely voters:
These results don't look credible to us. We're agnostic about individual candidates but we don't believe there is actually any new information available anywhere that would cut Doug Applegate's support in half. We think FM3 did a fair job of putting positive and negative information in front of the voters for their poll. We can't say the same here at all. We have to question the methodology and the intentions of the pollsters and the PAC that paid for the poll.
UPDATE: We've been alerted to the fact that Change Research isn't exactly a top-shelf pollster and the poll likely has serious methodology issues. We don't know the demographics of the respondents or their party affiliation (so we don't know if the sample is a true proxy of the 49th district). We don't know what "information" was communicated or how. Doubts have been raised to the point where we believe it's quite possible the poll may have been set up to make one candidate look worse than others. We're going to significantly discount the results. This is troubling because these poll results were included in a San Francisco Chronicle article about Democrats in jungle primaries all over California.
For reference, here is how "Fight Back California" announced their results:
In CA-49, when voters are shown the list of all potential candidates with information about the candidates, Republican Assemblymember Rocky Chavez is in the lead with 19% followed by Democrat Mike Levin at 16% and Republican Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey and Democrat Sara Jacobs tied at 15%. In a narrowed field of candidates, Chavez maintains the lead with 23% followed by Democrat Levin at 17%, Republican Harkey at 16%, and Doug Applegate at 15%.
Here is a link to the post on their web site announcing the results:
We've asked the "Fight Back California" PAC to share their methodology and the information they gave the likely voters to understand what generated the huge swings. We hope they oblige. We suspect they won't.
A number of people have asked us for the methodology behind the FM3 poll indicating the imminent danger in the primary as well as additional information about other results.
We've included a full report out on the poll (prepared by FM3 for Flip the 49th). The PDF includes all the poll results as well as the methodology.
A Love Letter to Sara Jacobs and Paul Kerr: Please Be Our Heroes and Step Aside Now (We Won't Forget!)
WE LOVE YOU!
Democrats are in danger of being locked out of the 49th district in November because of California's Top Two "jungle primary", which will send the top two vote-getters in the June primary to the general election in November regardless of party affiliation.
There are too many strong Democrats running. That means these candidates could split the primary vote, putting two Republicans on the final ballot for November and depriving all of us of a critical choice between two starkly different visions of the future for our state and our country.
Sara Jacobs and Paul Kerr, you are polling significantly below Democratic front-runners Doug Applegate and Mike Levin. However, you have enough support to become spoilers in this election, drawing enough votes away from Applegate and Levin to put Republicans Rocky Chavez and Diane Harkey in the top two slots in June.
We love the two of you. Sara, you are a fresh new face in California politics, giving a voice to young voters in the 49th district, particularly young women. Paul, you have a life story that resonates with many Californians, with hard-won values and experience that have prepared you for public service.
But the two of you are very unlikely to win in June. And you are putting this critically important election at risk.
It's time to do the right thing and step aside. There is too much at stake here. You'll be heroes and patriots. It's not often that our country calls upon us to be true patriots - but this is one of those times.
We won't forget you. We'll be there for you in the future. Please be there for us now in the way that we need you to be - as hard as it will be for you.
To all voters that care about having a Democrat on the ballot in November: Please send Sara Jacobs and Paul Kerr a love letter of your own. Recognize what they have to offer, their desire to serve, and the contribution they've made up to now. But ask them to make the hard call to step aside, to serve us in the way that most counts right now. Ask them to be heroes and patriots and to wait until next time. And tell them that you'll be there for them.
Candidate contact information is below.
PLEASE reach out to these candidates and let's narrow the field so we have a shot in November!
Paul Kerr – campaign office: 858-350-3180
You can also sign the grassroots change.org petition asking them to step aside. The link is below.
Democrats are in danger of being locked out of the 49th district in November: Check out the results of a scary FM3 poll conducted February 12-15
A Democratic PAC called "Flip the 49th" commissioned a comprehensive poll of the race to replace Darrell Issa in the 49th district. The poll was specifically oriented towards the primary election on June 5th. The results are very interesting and quite scary for anyone who wants a real choice in November.
The bottom line: Because of California's "top two" primary system where the top two vote-getters in the June 5th primary go on the November ballot, the Democrats may get shut out of the November election. Why? Too many candidates will split the Democratic vote leaving Republicans with the top two slots.
This danger is very clear in the poll results which were presented out in an easy-to-understand PowerPoint slide deck. Some highlights from the deck are below.
Let's start with where overall primary race currently stands:
However, after the pollsters gave likely voters some commonly available positive and negative information about all the candidates, the results shift pretty dramatically and the Democrats get locked out in November:
If the Republican field narrows, most likely because Gaspar drops out, the Republicans have an even better chance of snagging the top two slots on the November ballot:
While these results may give many conservative Republicans warm and happy feelings about this election cycle in the 49th district, anyone who wants a real and meaningful choice in November should be horrified. Democrats, independent voters, and a sizable group of moderate Republicans feel strongly that they must be able to choose between two profoundly different visions for the country and the state moving forward.
We are at risk of having only one of these visions represented on the final ballot in November.
What's bitterly ironic about this situation is that there aren't huge differences between the policy positions of the individual Democratic candidates on the big issues this year. For issues that voters care about (confirmed by our own interactive poll and reinforced by the professional polls), all of the Democratic candidates are more or less aligned: They believe health care is a human right and want to expand coverage, they are committed to put a check on Trump's agenda, they want to move towards clean energy to slow down climate change, and they believe in a path to citizenship for the DREAMers.
There is much more agreement than disagreement on the Republican side as well.
With this district uniquely balanced between registered Democrats and Republicans (and a large group of independent voters in the middle), the choice in November should be between Democratic and Republican values, policy proposals, and visions for the future. We can't allow this critical choice to be taken away because too many strong Democratic candidates decided to run and the Democratic Party couldn't maneuver its way out of this strategic blunder.
The solution is for Democrats, independent voters, and moderate Republicans to align behind whoever is the Democratic front-runner at election time and then follow through by voting for that front-runner. You'll know who that candidate is when the mail-in ballots start going out in May. The front-runner will likely be either Doug Applegate or Mike Levin (with Sara Jacobs as a third but less likely possibility).
For voters who are ambivalent about voting for a Democrat in November but who aren't all that happy with the Republican Party locking up the ballot by default, please remember that the primary election sets the table for the November election. Your real choice should be in November. But the primary election in June decides whether or not there is even a real choice to be made.
So, please preserve the option to make a real and meaningful choice in November. If you are uneasy about Republicans deciding the November election in June without giving voters a true choice, PLEASE VOTE IN THE JUNE 5TH PRIMARY and please vote for the Democratic front-runner, no matter who that is when the time comes.
If you put an individual candidate ahead of a real choice for all of us, you may end up silencing hundreds of thousands of the Voices of the 49th in November.
SurveyUSA Election Poll for the 49th District Shows Clear and Present Danger in Primary (Data collected 2/10-2/13)
Results from a SurveyUSA poll taken in mid-February have been making the rounds lately. Sponsored by KGTV-TV and the San Diego Union-Tribune, the poll surveyed 510 likely voters in the 49th District.
The results have Doug Applegate (D) ahead at 18% followed by Rocky Chavez (R) at 17%.
The rest of the pack includes Diane Harkey (R) at 10%, Mike Levin (D) at 8%, Kristin Gaspar (R) at 7%, Sara Jacobs (D) at 5%, Brian Maryott (R) at 2%, Joshua Schoonover (R) at 2%, Paul Kerr (D) at 1%, and Christina Prejean (D) at 1%.
Of the total number of respondents, 37% were Republican, 32% were Democrats, and 30% were independents.
Some other interesting nuggets from the poll:
If you're reading this right now, there's a good chance you live in the 49th congressional district in Southern California. This district stretches from Dana Point in the north all the way to Del Mar in the south (including a big chunk of San Diego County and a smaller piece of Orange County).
Our district is in the early stages of a rather important election season. Our Congressman, Representative Darrell Issa, has announced that he's retiring and will not seek re-election. As a result, 16 candidates have jumped into the race to replace him. Of the 16, two are Democratic front-runners (Doug Applegate and Mike Levin) and two are Republican front-runners (Rocky Chavez and Diane Harkey).
The 49th district has an unusually balanced mix of Republican, Democratic, and Independent voters as measured by registration. Registered Republicans slightly outnumber Democrats but there is a huge block of Independent swing voters which will ultimately decide who will represent us in Congress.
A primary election on June 5th will determine the two candidates that go on to the general election on November 6th. The top two vote-getters will be on the ballot in November regardless of party affiliation. With so many candidates running in a relatively "purple" district, the political landscape is incredibly fragmented and confused... and the stakes are quite high. The 49th District is an important battleground for control of the House of Representatives.
While it may seem like the choice in 2018 is between individual candidates, don't be fooled: The real choice is between the Republican and Democratic visions for the country and the state.
The real choice is between helping President Trump with his agenda or fighting it. Between repealing and replacing Obamacare or protecting, fixing, and expanding it. Between tightening immigration and building a border wall or a more inclusive approach to immigration reform. Between fighting attempts to slow down climate change or taking action now to preserve our planet for future generations. These are the big issues. Not the minor differences between one candidate from the same party or another.
The Democratic candidates all have a lot in common when it comes to their positions on policies and issues. The Republican candidates share their own core values and positions as well. The choice in November should really be between two political philosophies and two visions for the future.
But that choice may be taken away from us.
The odds that the Democrats will get shut out in November are uncomfortably high. Doug Applegate is the current front-runner. Mike Levin is in second place. But Sara Jacobs and Paul Kerr, both late entrants into the race, have vast resources and are not hesitating to use them. They are unlikely to win but could very well pull enough support from Doug Applegate and Mike Levin to make sure that we’ll see Rocky Chavez and Diane Harkey on the ballot in November.
Having two Republicans on the November ballot is a terrible outcome. Not just for Democrats (who would be disenfranchised), but also for independent voters and for moderate Republicans who are looking for change.
This Facebook page, group, and affiliated web site were created to address the problems with the dysfunctional primary.
We are working hard to make sure that a crazy primary season does not deprive voters of a real choice in 2018. The winner in November should reflect the will of all the Californians in the district. That means that we get through the primary with a Democrat on the ballot for November.
We avoid disaster by educating, engaging, and informing voters. How? By getting this message out now:
1. VOTE ON JUNE 5TH!
2. VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC FRONT-RUNNER
In addition to spreading the word, we’ll bring voters news about the race and the candidates as well as discuss the issues with the jungle primary that are creating the potential for a shut-out in November.
We'll report out the results of reputable polls in the district and provide analysis.
Finally, we'll give voters access to lots of information from different sources including candidate campaign web sites (under the Candidate tabs above) and other links under the RESOURCES. These links are a direct line to independent sources for objective candidate profiles, campaign fundraising data, and other important information.
An educated and informed electorate is critical to a healthy democracy.
ABOUT THE 49th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
The 49th congressional district currently covers the northern coastal areas of San Diego County and a few cities in the southern part of Orange County. The district includes the cities of Dana Point, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is also in the district.
Congressman Darrell Issa (R) currently represents the 49th district. In the 2016 election, Issa won by a margin of less than 1 percentage point (1,621 votes) over challenger Doug Applegate (D). Issa announced he would not seek re-election.
In the 2018 election, this district is considered to be a major battleground that could determine control of the United States House of Representatives. Four Democrats have filed, including 2016 challenger Doug Applegate, Mike Levin, Sara Jacobs, and Paul Kerr. Eight Republicans have also jumped into the race, including Rocky Chavez, Diane Harkey, Kristin Gaspar, Brian Maryott, Joshua Schoonover, Mike Schmitt, David Medway, and Craig Nordal.
All four Democrats are credible candidates. Only three of the eight Republicans have any measure of support: Rocky Chavez, Diane Harkey, and Kristin Gaspar. Chavez and Harkey are polling well ahead of Gaspar.
The primary election is on June 5, 2018. The top two vote-getters in the primary (regardless of party affiliation) will face off in the general election on November 6, 2018.
Voices of the 49th is committed to making sure that voters in the 49th congressional district have a meaningful choice in November... which means engaging, educating, informing, and influencing voters through the jungle primary in June so that a Democrat makes it on to the final ballot.