2018 California Independent Election Roundup


This Election Guide provides information on the most consequential elections for Californians, including the races for US Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, tight congressional races, and key ballot propositions.


We are focusing our coverage on California because California’s “top two” nonpartisan primary reform has produced some interesting matchups that could produce historic results.

In the US Senate race, incumbent Dianne Feinstein is running against a fellow Democrat, who falls further to the left of the political spectrum than her, without her party’s support. In the race for state insurance commissioner, Steve Poizner is positioned to be the first No Party Preference candidate to win statewide office. In the race for governor, independent voters are creating a more competitive race than pundits expected.

There are so many things at stake in the 2018 elections, and California is changing the way we look at electoral competition. Voters outside the dominant political party in several races will decide the winner. The continued growth in No Party Preference voters is changing the game at all levels.

IVN is here to put these changing election dynamics into context so voters can make informed decisions at the ballot box.

Check out IVN's Interactive CA Poll


Insurance Commissioner – Steve Poizner (NPP) v. Ricardo Lara (D)

Why It Matters

Poizner is positioned to make history as the first No Party Preference candidate elected to the position of insurance commissioner.  He previously held the position, during which time he told the legislature he believed the position should be nonpartisan. He still believes that today.

IVN Survey Results

  • 38.5% of respondents said they support  No Party Preference candidate Steve Poizner
  • 28.3% said they support Democrat Ricardo Lara
  • 33.1% are not sure who they will support

Resources

US Senate – Dianne Feinstein (D) v. Kevin De Leon (D)

Why It Matters

The incumbent Feinstein is running for re-election without the support of her own party. Her double-digit lead over opponent Kevin de León has shrunk since July according to a new poll from PPIC. With two Democrats in the race, voters outside California’s most dominant political party will end up deciding this outcome. How will voters respond to the candidates?

IVN’s Survey

  • 34.1% support US Sen. Dianne Feinstein
  • 23% support Kevin de Leon
  • 42.9% of respondents said they were not sure.

Resources


State Senate District 22 – Mike Eng (D) v. Susan Rubio (D)

Why It Matters

State Senate District 22 is a deep blue district in Los Angeles County. Republican registration is approximately 19%. However, what often gets overlooked is the huge No Party Preference population — making up 30% of the registered voter population, and this race comes down to a party-backed and endorsed candidate (Eng) versus a candidate outside the party establishment (Rubio). These candidates need support from outside the Democratic Party to win.

Resources

Governor – Gavin Newsom (D) v. John Cox (R)

Why It Matters

Gavin Newsom and John Cox are running for the highest office in the world’s fifth largest economy. With the growth of registered No Party Preference voters (second largest voting bloc in the state), and polls showing a narrowing gap between the two, independent voters will have a major impact on this election.

IVN’s Survey

  • 44% support Republican businessman John Cox
  • 48% support Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom
  • 8% said they were not sure

Resources

Lieutenant Governor – Eleni Kounalakis (D) v. Ed Hernandez (D)

Why It Matters

This race will not be decided by Democratic voters. It will be decided by voters outside the political majority as it pits Two Democrats, Eleni Kounalakis and party-backed Ed Hernandez. With No Party Preference voters making up the second largest voting bloc in the state, the winner of this race will need to prove they are not beholden only to party politics.

IVN’s Survey

  • 29.3% support Businesswoman Eleni Kounalakia
  • 13.4% support State Senator Ed Hernandez
  • 57.4% said they were not sure who they support.

Resources

Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tony Thurmond v. Marshall Tuck

Why It Matters

Californians will be choosing a state superintendent of public instruction this November. Though the office of Superintendent is nonpartisan, the top-two open primary system in California allowed for two Democrats to finish atop the June ballot. The primary was exceedingly close, with Tuck edging Thurmond 37% to 35.6%. Tony Thurmond is a state assemblyman from Richmond, Marshall Tuck is a school executive who has run charter schools and alternative district schools in Los Angeles.

IVN’s Survey

  • 54.7% of respondents said they were not sure who they support
  • 27.5% plan to vote for School Improvement Director Marshall Tuck
  • 17.7% say they support Assemblymember Tony K. Thurmond

Resources


Congressional District 10 – Jeff Denham (R) v. Josh Harder (D)

Why It Matters

Congressional District 10 is considered one of the most competitive congressional races in California, and has a record of being traded back and forth between Republican and Democratic representatives. Voter registration is 38% Democratic, 35% Republican, and 21% No Party Preference. The winner of this race will need to demonstrate they can most broadly represent the people of the district.

Resources

Congressional District 49 – Mike Levin (D) v. Diane Harkey (R)

Why It Matters

Central to the Democrats desire to take back the house in November is a strong showing in California. California is home to seven GOP-held seats that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. The 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 and going to work in the Trump administration.

Polling in the contest between Republican Diane Harkey and Mike Levin shows a very close race, some polls show Harkey up, others have Levin ahead.

Resources


Congressional District 50 – Duncan Hunter Jr. (R) v. Ammar Campa-Najjar (D)

Why It Matters

Congressional District 50 grabbed national headlines when prosecutors charged Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter Jr. and his wife with prohibited use of campaign contributions, wire fraud, conspiracy, falsification of records and aiding and abetting. Hunter and his wife have pleaded not guilty, the trial is expected to begin in December, after the election. Hunter has represented the 50th District since 2013. Ammar Campa-Najjar is a Democrat who worked as a deputy regional field director for Barack Obama‘s 2012 re-election campaign before joining the Obama administration as a White House official. He also worked for the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as a communications and marketing director and for the U.S. Department of Labor as a public affairs officer. The race has grabbed headlines and attack ads by both candidates.

Resources




Proposition 6 – “Voter Approval for Future Gas and Vehicle Taxes and 2017 Tax Repeal Initiative”

Why It Matters

Former San Diego City Councilman Carl Demaio has led the effort to repeal the Gas Tax in California with the Yes on Prop. 6 campaign. Prop. 6 requires voter approval for fuel and car taxes and applies retroactively to 2017. That would all but eliminate the taxes and fees accumulated through the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, also known as SB 1.

Several groups are pushing for a no vote on Prop. 6 saying the effort would eliminate funding for more than 6,500 bridge and road projects.

IVN’s Survey

  • 46.5% oppose the proposition
  • 38% support it.
  • 15.5% are not sure

Resources


Proposition 8 – “Limits on Dialysis Clinics’ Revenue and Required Refunds Initiative”

Why It Matters

The proposition requires companies that operate dialysis clinics to pay back insurers any profits over 15 percent of qualifying business costs. Supporters argue that these companies are raking in huge profits while several complaints have been filed with the state about these clinics. Meanwhile, opponents say this is really an abuse of the initiative process by a labor union seeking to organize Dialysis Center employees.

IVN’s Survey

  • 65.4% support the proposition
  • 12.5% oppose it
  • 22.2% are not sure

Resources

Proposition 10 – “Local Rent Control Initiative”

Why It Matters

Prop. 10 is developing into a huge battle as rent control advocates and those opposed dig in their heels. Since 1995, under the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, Californians who rent apartments, single-family homes or condominiums have had limited protections from rising prices. That could change if voters pass Proposition 10 in November. The ballot measure would let cities and counties expand or enact rent control by overturning the 1995 law. And the debate comes as affordable housing continues to be a challenge for many Californians.

Resources



Top-Two Election Reform

Why It Matters

The nonpartisan, top-two primary has changed not only the way elections are conducted in California, but the way we look at elections and electoral competition. The system replaced a partisan system with the private purpose of selecting party nominees, to a nonpartisan system with the public purpose of narrowing the field of candidates down to the most viable candidates among all voters. Since Proposition 14 passed in 2010, we have seen elections become more competitive and the votes of the political minority strengthen, including in 2018 where voters outside the political majority will decide statewide legislative, congressional races, and the election for US Senate.

Resources

Privacy – California Consumer Privacy Act

Why It Matters

Public concern over privacy and data security has never been greater, as alarming news has repeatedly surfaced of electronic security breaches, hacks, and leaked personal information, and consumer information being sold to the highest bidder sold to the highest bidder. thefts, personal information by online and social media companies. California, with overwhelming support from voters, passed new measures to protect consumer privacy — a law that could become a national model going forward.

IVN’s Survey

  • 81.4% of respondents declared some level of support for the new law.
  • Most respondents want to keep the law as it is currently written, while nearly 500 respondents say lawmakers should repeal the 30-day grace period so consumers can sue immediately.
  • Most respondents believe the law should apply to the government as well

Resources