Internal Poll Shows No Front-Runner in Race for Royce’s Seat

Possibility that two Republicans or two Democrats could emerge from June primary

Andy Thorburn's campaign released an internal poll showing him ahead of fellow Democrats including Sam Jammal, pictured, in California's 39th District. (D.A. Banks/CQ Roll Call file photo).

An internal poll from Democratic candidate Andy Thorburn’s campaign shows the race to replace Rep. Ed Royce in California’s 39th District is still wide open, with more than a third of those polled undecided.

Democrats have concerns that their four candidates could split the vote and allow two Republicans advance to the general election. California’s primary is June 5th and the two candidates with the most votes advance to November regardless of party.

The poll, obtained first by Roll Call, shows Republican candidate and former state Assemblyman Young Kim in the lead with 13 percent. Thorburn, a former insurance executive, and fellow Democrat Gil Cisneros are tied with 11 points each.

They are followed by Republicans Shawn Nelson and Bob Huff, both at 10 percent. The two remaining candidates, both Democrats, pediatrician Mai Khanh Tran and former Obama administration official Sam Jammal, had 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

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Thorburn’s campaign highlighted that he had the highest favorable numbers at 22 percent, though he is tied with Cisneros, a Navy veteran who has some name recognition from winning the state lottery eight years ago.

It also pointed out in the memo before it showed the overall results that Thorburn’s unfavorable numbers were 7 percent and Cisneros was at 15 percent.

The poll was conducted for Democratic outlet the Mellman Group for Thorburn’s campaign between March 30 through April 7 and surveyed 400 voters in the district.

The margin of error for the poll was 4.9 percentage points. Jammal said the margin of error said it showed it is possible for anyone to win.

"Cisneros and Thorburn spent millions of dollars and it's a statistical tie," he said.

Similarly, Jammal said his campaign has done internal poll last month by TargetSmart from March 13 through 15 with 500 voters and a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

"The results also confirmed a statistical tie among the Democratic candidates," Jammal said in an email. "Democratic voters remain undecided in spite of the hundreds of thousands spent by the out of district candidates - Cisneros and Thorburn."

Jammal also touted he had just been endorsed by the Orange County Young Democrats.

"The ground is largely undecided with the most active trending toward me," he said.

Thorburn has tried burnishing his Democratic credentials in recent months, voluntarily recognizing his campaign staff’s union.

Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced in January that he would retire

But while Royce won re-election in 2016, the district voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, giving Democrats hopes they can flip the district.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Toss-Up.

Correction 2:41 p.m.| A previous version misspelled Jammal's last name.

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