The Public Policy Institute of California poll revealed a tight race for governor between Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with nary a Republican in sight. Yet, in the end it may be Republican voters who could choose the next governor because of California’s top two primary system.

With the June primary four months away, Newsom tops the PPIC poll with 23% support from likely voters with Villaraigosa closing in at 21%. Third position also belongs to a Democrat with state Treasurer John Chiang claiming 9% just ahead of the first Republican in the poll, Assemblyman Travis Allen at 8%.

If Newsom and Villaraigosa hold their positions through the primary Republicans will not have a candidate in the general election and Republican voters who choose to vote for governor would have to pick between the top two Democrats. In a close race, those Republican voters—who make up 26% of registered voters– could be decisive.

In the new PPIC poll, Villaraigosa edges out Newsom among Republican voters 6% to 4%. The gap is wider when the ideology of voters is measured. Conservative voters go for Villaraigosa over Newsom 15% to 6%. Moderates also favor the former L.A. mayor over the former S.F. mayor, 24% to 18%.

Lots of time left and big campaigns for the primary and general election to come and try to move the voters of all persuasions. But, ironically, Republicans who have felt left out of the political world in Democratic-controlled California may have the final say in who gains the state’s top job.