A new Field poll for next June's California gubernatorial primary has some curious results. Democratic governor Jerry Brown leads the field with 52% of the vote. His Republican challengers, Abel Maldonado, Tim Donnelly, and Neel Kashkari have 11%, 9%, and 3% respectively.
This poll overrates how Brown will do in June for several reasons. June primaries in California are tough for Democrats. Dianne Feinstein managed only 49.3% of the vote in her 2012 senate primary. While Feinstein did have some minor Democrats on the ballot, she also faced very weak competition from Republicans. None of them spent money statewide. Maldonado and Donnelly have their bases and figure to raise some money as both have bases to draw from. Kashkari has a ton of his own money and big money donors he can call on to help him.
Brown is popular but he's no Feinstein when it comes to popularity. No one in California is.
The June 2014 election also figures to be tough for Democrats given the national mood. It's almost certain to be more toxic than the June 2012 environment. And we've seen Democrats underperforming in special elections this year.
When you drill down with the numbers you see that Brown gets 17% of the Republicans, nearly topping Maldonado and Donnelly and actually wins the Tea Party vote with 26%. Yes, they have Jerry Brown winning the Tea Party vote. Seriously. The electorate is 44.5%D/28.5%R. While I think the November 2014 electorate could be close to that, the June electorate definitely won't be. It'll likely be something like 44%D/35%R.
If there are no other Democrats in the race, I can see Brown topping out around 49-50%, although I'd be far more shocked if he were at 52% than at 46%. That's not to say Brown won't win big in November 2014. I think even under the worst circumstances he wins 55%-45% an under the best it's 60%-40%.