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Internal Poll: Republican Harkey Has Slight Lead Over Levin in Race for Issa’s Seat

California’s 49th District is a top target for Democrats in November

Republican Diane Harkey will face Democrat Mike Levin in November in California’s 49th District. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo).
Republican Diane Harkey will face Democrat Mike Levin in November in California’s 49th District. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo).

The open-seat race in California’s 49th District is already close, according to an internal poll from Republican Diane Harkey’s campaign, obtained by Roll Call.

Harkey, an elected member of the California State Board of Equalization that oversees taxation, led Democratic environmental lawyer Mike Levin, 46 percent to 43 percent. Nine percent of respondents were undecided. 

California will be central to the Democrats’ path to a House majority this year, since it is home to seven GOP-held seats that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. The largely coastal 49th District, which includes parts of San Diego County and Orange counties, is one of them. Voters here backed Clinton by 7 points while re-electing GOP Rep. Darrell Issa by less than 1 point. Issa is retiring this year after nine terms.

The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies surveyed 400 likely voters by landline and mobile phones from July 15-17, and had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. Live interviewers were used for all of the calls.

The results were heartening to the Harkey campaign, whose spokesman noted that the poll tested the “worst case scenario” for turnout, which would be 2016 presidential levels. The data was modeled using the lowest level of GOP registration, or 39 percent, and the highest level of Democratic registration, or 32 percent, according to the polling memo.&

Harkey also led Levin in the Orange County portion of the district, where both candidates are from, 53 percent to 42 percent. They were virtually tied in the San Diego County portion, with 44 percent of those surveyed backing Harkey compared to 43 percent for Levin.

Watch: Democratic Candidates Raise Millions in Second Quarter Fundraising

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The poll showed Harkey with slightly higher name recognition at 60 percent, while 53 percent said they had heard of Levin. Both had favorability ratings of 25 percent. President Donald Trump’s job approval among poll respondents was at 47 percent.

Harkey finished first among a 16-candidate field in the June 5 top-two primary, in which all candidates, regardless of party, ran on a single ballot. She took 26 percent of the vote to 18 percent for Levin.

Levin released his own internal poll last week, showing him slightly ahead of Harkey. In Levin’s poll, 44 percent supported him compared to 41 percent who supported Harkey. The margin of error was 4.6 percent. 

The Feldman Group conducted the poll for levin and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The poll surveyed 400 likely voters via telephone from June 24 through June 27. The poll also found that a majority of those surveyed, or 52 percent were “looking for a candidate to work across party lines on behalf of local interests,” while 36 percent wanted a candidate who would “shake up Washington and change Congress.”

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 49th District race a Toss-up

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