Republican Steve Garvey’s remarkable rise to the top of the ballot in California’s U.S. Senate race

Republican Steve Garvey’s remarkable rise to the top of the ballot in California’s U.S. Senate race

Elections 2024, Homepage News, California Politics

Staff times

March 2, 2024

The latest poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, co-sponsored by The Times, shows Republican Steve Garvey with a slight lead with days to go in the primary election for U.S. senator.

The poll shows something remarkable


increase in support for the former Dodger



in which

three well-known Democrats Rep. Adam


Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee fight.

It’s the latest indication that Garvey could win one of two contenders in the general election, which still favors the Democratic candidate.

How did Garvey get here? Here’s an explanation from the pages of The Times:

The primaries: good for Garvey

Garvey is favored by 27% of likely voters, Schiff 25% and Porter 19%.

Representative Barbara

Lee (D-Oakland) gets 8%, while 12% of likely voters choose another candidate and 9% are still undecided.

In fact, Garvey and Schiff are tied because the difference is within the poll’s margin of error.

The general election: good for Schiff

Schiff (D-Burbank) would be an overwhelming favorite to defeat Garvey in heavily Democratic California. The poll shows Schiff starting with a significant lead in a two-way matchup, 53% to 38%, with 9% undecided. In contrast, a general election between Schiff and Porter (D-Irvine) would start off tied, with four in 10 voters undecided, the poll found.

The Garvey Wave

In a deep blue state like California, it may seem a surprise that a Republican can take the lead in primaries. But this is unusual. The Democratic primaries are highly competitive, with Porter and Schiff as major figures in the party and Lee as a popular figure on the left. So they divide the Democratic votes in the deep blue state.

In the early polls, Garvey wasn’t doing so well. But recent opinion polls show an increase, as he has become better known, especially among Republicans.

Why? Garvey’s campaign has spent just $1.4 million through mid-February, a tiny fraction of that

under money

Schiff and Porter increased.

But Garvey got help… from the ship.

The advertisements

Schiff has spent more than $25 million on television advertising, most of which has portrayed the match as a race between him and Garvey. An outside group of shipping allies has spent about $10 million more on a similar effort.

Two leading candidates for the Senate. Two very different visions for California, according to a narrator, who later notes that Garvey is too conservative for California and voted for Donald Trump twice.

Times political reporter Benjamin Oreskes explained the strategy this way: “While the message will turn off Democratic voters in the state, it could broaden the appeal of former baseball players to Republican voters, as intended, according to two political strategists .”

Porter described the ship’s tactics. “We need honest leadership, not political games,” she said.

But political pundits were not surprised.

As Times columnist Mark Z. Barabak put it, “The calculation is clear. Schiff hopes to win the Senate seat in the March 5 primary by advancing his weakest possible opponent, Garvey, to a runoff in November. Cheeky? Sure. Cynical or anti-democratic, as some critics claim? Not at all. … This is politics, after all. No cake.’

Voter turnout

Another factor that could help Garvey on Tuesday: projected low voters

to turn out

. After mail-in ballots are returned, political consultants expect Tuesday’s primary to have low turnout, with an electorate that is significantly older, whiter and more Republican than the state’s voter population as a whole.

Read list

Voter guide from The Times

Your guide to California’s U.S. Senate elections: the race to succeed Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Your guide to California Senate candidates’ views on housing and homelessness

A Climate Voter’s Guide to California’s Senate Elections

Recommendations from The Times editors (Opinion)

In depth: Senate candidates

Long before he took on Trump, Adam Schiff’s pursuit of tough justice defined his career

From teaming up with Black Panthers to calling for a ceasefire, Barbara Lee remains true to her beliefs

How Katie Porter uses her blunt style and experience as a single mother in her campaign for Senate

Steve Garvey touts family values ​​in his bid for Senate. Some of his children tell a different story


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