The top two primary has turned politics in California on its head. You might even hear a cheer you would never hear in any other contest: “We’re Number 2.” By virtue of being number 2 on June 5, a candidate is still alive to face the first place finisher in November.

As the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll yesterday basically reiterated findings from the Los Angeles Times poll earlier in the week, there seems a desperate battle for that second spot in the governor’s race. PPIC had Republican businessman John Cox is second place behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom with 19% of likely voters. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was within striking distance at 15%. Cox was 6-points behind Newsom. In the Times poll, Villaraigosa had a 1-point lead over Cox and trailed Newsom by 10.

Anything can happen in a race in which voters seem largely disinterested and political commercials are designed to influence the vote so a candidate or a party will have the best pairings to win an office come November.

Still the polling indicates that Cox best chance to chanting “I’m Number 2” is if Republicans coalesce around his candidacy and abandon the other prominent Republican in the race, Travis Allen, who sits at 11% in the PPIC poll. For Villaraigosa, the poll indicates he will have to rely on a heavy Latino turnout. The PPIC poll has Villaraigosa as the favorite of 39% of the Latinos, more than two-and-a-half times the draw Newsom gets from that ethnic group.

You have to wonder if the shenanigans on display in this election lead to greater disdain for the political process and reinforce negative perceptions of the governing process. There is some evidence of that in the PPIC poll.

PPIC asked respondents: “How much of the time do you think you can trust the STATE government in Sacramento to do what is right—just about always, most of the time, or only some of the time?

Only 6% of Likely Voters trusted the state government to do the right thing most of the time. That attitude pretty much carried across the board with Democrats and Republicans and Independents only being a percentage point or two away from the average.

When the category of “most of the time” they’ll get it right was added to “just about always” the Likely Voters stood at 38%. In contrast, respondents who answered “only some of the time” or “none of the time” totaled 61%. The 13% of respondents that answered the question “none of the time” volunteered that answer for it was not part of the question. Democrats were more favorable to government than Republicans, but since they hold the reins of power in Sacramento, that is expected.

Because this is largely a Democratic state trust in the federal government now controlled by Republicans was much lower.

As the results come in a week from Tuesday, we’ll see how much joy and back-slapping there is in the halls of the candidates that finish second. In the top two primary, that would be something to celebrate but the whole race is not run.

You can find the full survey here.