GOP Tests Gay Candidate as 'New Generation Republican' in Poll #CA52

Peters is vulnerable in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new GOP poll tested former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, an openly gay Republican and potential congressional candidate, as a "new generation Republican" in the highly competitive 52nd District.

DeMaio, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year, posted solid favorable ratings. He led freshman Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., in a hypothetical general-election matchup.

The poll informed likely voters that DeMaio is openly gay and he would prefer that the GOP focus on fixing the federal government's finances rather than on social issues. According to the polling memo, the results of pitching that kind of a profile in this moderate district were encouraging across the political spectrum.

"The data from this survey shows that DeMaio could be very successful in a congressional race portraying himself as a 'new generation Republican,'” Tarrance Group pollster Dave Sackett wrote.

The survey memo, obtained by CQ Roll Call, was paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

National Republicans view DeMaio, who has yet to announce his candidacy, as a top potential recruit to take on Peters. The freshman Democrat ousted GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray in November in one of the closest and most expensive races in the country.

(Read more about DeMaio here in Roll Call)

In the poll of 404 likely voters in the district, 51 percent said they had a favorable impression of DeMaio, and 28 percent viewed him unfavorably. Just 21 percent said they had no opinion or had never heard of DeMaio.

In a matchup with Peters, DeMaio led 49 percent to 39 percent. The poll was taken April 22-24 and had a 4.9-point margin of error.

Peters was named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline program after winning with 51 percent last year. He turned in a strong first-quarter fundraising report, raising $258,000 in the first three months of the year and ending March with $220,000 in the bank.

(Read about the other 25 Democrats who made the DCCC's Frontline program for vulnerable incumbents in Roll Call.)

President Barack Obama won the district by 6 points in 2012.