Schiff leads, Porter and Garvey in tight race for second in US Senate primary: new poll

The latest California voter survey, conducted jointly by USC, Cal Poly Pomona and California State University, Long Beach, names Rep. Adam Schiff the frontrunner of a competitive race to fill the late Dianne Feinstein’s seat.

(Letty Avila / USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences)

Rep. Adam Schiff is the frontrunner in the 2024 United States Senate primary, with 25% of the votes among respondents, according to a new poll from researchers at USC, California State Polytechnic University Pomona and California State University, Long Beach.

(Dennis Lan / USC Price School of Public Policy)

The California Elections and Policy Poll, which surveyed 1,416 Californians from Jan. 21 to Jan. 29, found that Rep. Katie Porter and former Los Angeles Dodger Steve Garvey are tied for second place at 15%, with Rep. Barbara Lee in fourth place at 7%.

These findings show a growth in support for Garvey, who was trailing Porter by 6% for second place in a poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California in December.

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The March primary for the California Senate seat, which will decide who will be on the November ballot, comes after incumbent Sen. Laphonza Butler, appointed to fill the seat of the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, announced she would not be seeking reelection in 2024.

Pollsters gathered the majority of results after the candidates met at Bovard Auditorium for the Jan. 22  California U.S. Senate debate, where they discussed their positions on immigration policies, the Israel-Hamas war and a hypothetical second Trump presidency. 

Despite Schiff’s lead, the poll found that all candidates had the potential to gain support. Twenty-nine percent of all likely voters still remain undecided with early voting beginning in just a little under a week, depending on the county. According to the poll, 42% of independent voters, 37% of Republican voters and 19% of Democratic voters said they were undecided.

Researchers also noted that many Asian American voters and Latine voters, the two fastest-growing racial/ethnic groups in California, remain undecided, which could influence the outcome of the March 5 primary. The poll found that 37% of Asian likely voters and 31% of Latine likely voters are undecided. 

Porter leads among Latine voters at 19%, but researchers noted that differences between candidates were within the poll’s margin of error of 2.6%. Asian American voters preferred Schiff at 27%, with Porter and Lee trailing at 11% and 10%, respectively.

The poll also revealed California voters’ ranked preferences. Participants who ranked Garvey, Porter or Lee as their first choice were most likely to select Schiff as their second choice. However, 53% of voters who ranked Adam Schiff as their first choice were most likely to select Katie Porter as their second choice.

Participants also weighed in on other races, including the Los Angeles County district attorney March primary. Incumbent George Gascón, who was elected in 2020, is currently the frontrunner of the race, with support from 15% of voters in L.A. County. All other candidates have single-digit support. But despite Gascón’s lead, 51% of likely voters disapprove of him. 

For the 2024 presidential election, Biden holds majority support at 52%, followed by Trump at 25%, though Biden’s support is also about 10 points lower than his 2020 vote share in the state. Third-party candidates received approximately 20% of the total vote. 

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