As the battle for the Republican presidential nomination drags on through state after state, a number of commentators are suggesting that California’s primary scheduled for June 5 may help determine the party nominee. If that is so, Republican turnout should increase on election day. The potential upsurge in Republican voters could have a telling effect on both ballot measures and, perhaps, assembly and senate races.

The latest Public Policy Institute poll shows a race between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum within the margin of error in California. If that closeness is maintained until June, an evenly contested primary likely will bring even more voters to the polls.

Two ballot initiatives are scheduled for the June primary. Proposition 28 would change the term limit law allowing members to serve in one house or the other for a total of 12 years. Proposition 29 would raise taxes on cigarettes by $1-dollar a pack with equivalent increases on other tobacco products dedicating the money to research on diseases.

That same PPIC poll showed both measures enjoying early leads. Proposition 28 had the support of 68% of those polled with 24% opposed. Proposition 29 had 67% support with 30% saying No.

Opposition campaigns have not geared up before the poll was taken so those numbers likely will change. The turnout could also affect the poll numbers. With a highly contested presidential primary more conservative voters would be expected to turn out in June. Both support for the term limit change and the tobacco tax likely would shrink, maybe enough to turn those early poll numbers around.

As for the candidates, the top-two primary has brought great uncertainty to the June election. Many pundits believe that solidly Democratic districts would produce two Democrats to face off in the November election. However, a strong Republican turnout for the presidential candidates may be enough to push some Republican candidates into the number two spot in certain districts resulting in a traditional Democrat-Republican run-off in November.

One thing is sure, Democratic operatives are probably patting themselves on the back for convincing the legislature last year to pass a law, which moved most initiatives to the November general election ballot. The potentially higher Republican turnout could have easily helped push some initiatives, which the Democratic establishment opposes, such as the Stop Special Interest Money, into the Yes column. Of course, it could pass in November anyway. We shall see.