SECRETARY OF STATE RACE (Field Poll – likely voters)

Pete Peterson (R): 30%
Alex Padilla (D): 17%
David Curtis (G): 5%
Dan Schnur (NPP): 4%
Derek Cressman (D): 3%
Other: < 0.5%
Undecided: 41%

In the polling before Leland Yee dropped out, he was receiving 8% support. Pete Peterson picked up 3% without Yee and Padilla’s support increased 7%. Curtis and Green each picked up 1%.

The likely voter model Field used is 42% Democratic, 37% Republican, and 21% NPP or other. Last month, I wrote this about turnout:

I forecast voters will be composed of 46% Democrats, 39% Republicans, and 12% no party preference. The NPP (and another 3% of minor parties) will break essentially according to the Dem/Rep split, as well as cast ballots for their nominees (for the minor parties). This is based on the last several incumbent gubernatorial primaries and changes in registration. Again, this is statewide, so be cautious before inferring it to your local race.

Field projects a much higher NPP and minor party turnout than I did, which may be accurate. Mine was based on past mid-term elections, and we haven’t had one yet with the top-two primary. Will unaffiliated voters that are not used to voting in June turn out, particularly with no significant ballot measures?

Anyway, Republicans support their lone candidate in the race, which would be expected. Democrats are still weighing their options, of which there were three during much of the polling. And, Dan Schnur probably would have been a competitor had he kept his Republican registration. If voters aren’t willing to support a No Party Preference candidate for Secretary of State, can one win in any other statewide race?

Peterson and Padilla will advance to November, and Padilla will be the strong favorite in that election. I like Pete Peterson and appreciate that he talks about the non-elections role of the Secretary of State, which is critically important. However, the best chance Republicans have is in the Controller’s race with Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin. The question is whether business interests (and Mr. Munger) are willing to jump on that bandwagon as an investment in future Republican leadership, and we won’t know that until late summer.

Controller is an ideal office for Republicans to seek as a step on the ladder for a promising candidate. No offense to the very capable John Chiang, but the office is perceived by voters as ministerial and not one of significant policy discretion. Insiders know that the Controller serves on 81 boards and commissions, with the most important being the board of the Public Employees Retirement System and the Teachers’ Retirement Board of CalSTRS.

But, does the public know or care of the policy implications of those other roles? And, how much are the interests behind those boards willing to spend to advance their names? Or, more importantly, how much of a longview do Republican-affiliated interests have in an otherwise dim year?

Swearengin will easily advance to November with a consolidated Republican vote. In the Field Poll released Saturday, she is receiving 28% of likely voter support. This includes 83% of decided Republicans, 41% of decided No Party Preference, and 11% of decided Democratic voters. If we make the assumption that her Election Day break will be similar, she would capture around 50% of primary voters. That’s not likely though, as I predict she will perform a little lower among NPP voters, as conservative NPP voters are more likely to have made up their minds than liberals who have decided between Perez and Yee. The combined Republican vote was nearly 50% in the 2010 primary (Strickland and Evans), so that’s not unreasonable to expect.

Assembly Speaker John A. Perez is currently polling at 14% and BOE member Betty Yee is at 19%. While Yee supporters were elated with the poll, they have to be concerned that Perez will have a significant outreach edge in the final weeks, given that he had $1.8 million on hand to Yee’s $100k at the March 17 filing, and has raised significantly more in the weeks since.

I like Betty Yee and John A. Pérez (and will be voting for one of them). However, one will come in second and must face off against Swearengin and, if Democrats are looking for a sweep, this is where they need to build their defenses.

Conversely, if Republicans and business interest supporters want to focus on a statewide race for a contender for future higher office, Swearengin for Controller is the race. Otherwise, the best Republican hope for statewide office in upcoming cycles may be through Tim Draper’s Six California’s initiative.

Cross-posted in the Nooner.