According to the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll 28% of those surveyed will not vote in the U.S. Senate contest between Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris and Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. The Republicans who refuse to vote total 50%, while 34% of Independents said they wouldn’t vote. If these numbers hold true all the way through the election, I wonder what such a reality might do to the campaign strategies of those running for governor in 2018.

The Democratic side of the field is already filling up with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Treasurer John Chiang announced candidates. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seems ready to jump in and former Controller Steve Westly says he’s seriously thinking about it. Billionaire activist Tom Steyer and current Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti are asked constantly whether they will run for the job. (Of course, there are the intriguing  rumors Anne Gust Brown would attempt to succeed her husband.)

If the field expands to many candidates, luring Republican voters could be a key to victory…if they’ll only vote for a Democrat.

Of course, if one relatively high profile Republican jumps into the contest almost assuredly that Republican would end up in the General Election against the Democrat who captures the most votes in a multi-candidate field.

However, the Democratic gubernatorial candidates must have considered the possibility of two Democrats making the finals after the results of this year’s senate contest. In that case, Republican voters could make a difference.

But the PPIC poll suggests Republican voters influence in statewide campaigns, already diminished, will fall even further if they refuse to vote in an all-Democratic race.

PPIC president and pollster Mark Baldassare said he is watching very closely the trend of voters saying they will not vote in the one-party senate race. “I have to take them seriously because they volunteered the response” (that they didn’t plan to vote), Baldassare said. He added that we know very little about this phenomenon of voters refusing to vote in a major election.

Some might suggest it is not the party but the candidates in the senate race that prompt the “I’m not voting” response. That could account for the large portion of Independents who say they won’t vote. Or those Independent voters could lean Republican and are not interested in voting in an all-Democratic race.

Baldassare said that the situation raises questions that will contribute to the calculus for gubernatorial candidates in 2018.

Democratic contestants for governor will have to take Republican voters into consideration. They likely would approach Republicans from an economic or business angle. Newsom will talk about his business experience, Chiang about his fiscal stewardship, Villaraigosa on standing up to the teachers union, Westly his successful tech background.

It will be interesting to watch. Can any of the candidates say something to get the sit-on-their-hands voters to come out and vote without offending the Democratic base?