In poll, Republican Neel Kashkari makes gains against GOP rival Tim Donnelly

Seema Mehta, Michael Finnegan
June 1, 2014

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown holds a commanding lead in his bid for an unprecedented fourth term, but the race among GOP candidates seeking to take him on in November has become a dead heat just days before Tuesday’s election, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

Half of Californians deemed likely to vote in the primary supported Brown’s reelection. Among his chief challengers, both Republicans, Neel Kashkari was far behind at 18% and Tim Donnelly trailed at 13%. The difference between the two vying for the second slot in the general election was within the poll’s margin of error.

Still, Kashkari’s position represented a boost from earlier public polling that showed the political neophyte and former Treasury Department official trailing Donnelly, an assemblyman from San Bernardino County. The apparent movement suggested that Kashkari’s recent blitz of television ads and glossy mailers was paying dividends.

“It’s too close to call, but Kashkari has some momentum going into the final stretch,” said Dave Kanevsky of American Viewpoint, the Republican firm that conducted the poll along with the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. “His spending edge has helped push him into a competitive race.”

Among likely Republican voters — the targets of flurries of Kashkari fliers touting his bid and attacking Donnelly — Kashkari led 37% to Donnelly’s 23%.

Pollsters cautioned that the race remains highly fluid, a fact underscored by the large number of voters still undecided as Tuesday’s election neared. One in 10 likely voters had not settled on a candidate; among likely Republican voters, nearly 1 in 6 was undecided. (The top two finishers, regardless of party, move on to the November election. Brown has no significant Democratic opposition, so the contest for the second slot has focused on the Republicans.)

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