On some level, it’s understandable: It’s hard to look past the fireworks of the presidential race.
But many Californians seem to have forgotten another important decision. On Tuesday, voters in the state will decide who will succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat who has represented the state since 1992.
In Sacramento on Friday, many voters seemed unsure who was even running to be the next senator. (The candidates are Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez, both Democrats.)
“I’m a little iffy on that,” Mariah Silver told ABC10 News, saying she planned to find out who the candidates were over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Pete Peterman said he was going to vote for the Republican candidate. When he was informed the race was between two Democrats, he said he had actually left that bubble blank on his mail-in ballot.
“A big part of this relates to the difficulty that Republican voters and independents who lean Republican are having, given that there are no Republican candidates to choose from, only two Democrats,” Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said. In the last Field Poll, over half of Republicans and one-third of non-partisans either had no preference or said they wouldn’t cast a vote in the Senate race.
Though many Californians may not be paying close attention to the Senate candidates, it doesn’t mean the race will be a close one. The latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found that 48 percent of likely voters are supporting Harris. Thirty-one percent plan to cast a vote for Sanchez. The difference between favorability marks is even greater.
"Our campaign isn't taking anything for granted and going to continue competing for every vote between now and election day,” a spokesman for Harris’s campaign told ABC10 News.
In an email, Sanchez wrote that her campaign had had to fight to media attention, while noting that in any other election year, the opportunity to elect the first Latina to the U.S. Senate would be all over the headlines.
“With so many historic firsts, the lack of coverage on the Senate race, and the magnitude of the Presidential election, it's reasonable that so many voters are undecided. This isn't a negative - it shows that California's take the decision of electing a new Senator seriously,” Sanchez wrote. “Another factor our campaign has experienced is that conservative voters are hesitant to formally declare they would vote for a Democrat, a factor that may also contribute to this unprecedented number of undecided voters.”