New poll shows Garamendi still in the lead

A second KPIX televison poll shows Lt. Gov. John Garamendi still in the lead in Tuesday’s special 10th Congressional District primary election to replace Ellen Tauscher.

All the same caveats apply to these results as those of the first poll, of course. This is a robo or automated telephone survey by SurveyUSA, which means that a computer called 800 households of likely voters on Thursday and Friday rather than a live pollster, a technique generally frowned upon by traditional pollsters.

But it is interesting to note that the numbers have not moved for most of the candidates, particularly given state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier’s recent mail and cable attack on Garamendi’s lack of residency in the district and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan’s $850,000 personal loan to her campaign.

I would love to see some of the campaigns’ internal tracking polls to see if these numbers match but we haven’t had any leaks of such numbers in the past few weeks.

Keep in mind that the top vote-getter in each party will advance to the Nov. 3 runoff but here are the latest SurveyUSA  poll findings:

John Garamendi (D) — 25 percent

David Harmer (R) — 20 percent

Mark DeSaulnier (D) — 16 percent

Joan Buchanan (D) — 12 percent

Anthony Woods (D) — 9 pecent

Chris Bunch (R) — 5 percent

David Peterson (R) 3 percent

Mark Loos (R) — 2 percent

Other — 3 percent

Undecided — 5 percent

It appears that Harmer is likely to emerge victorious on Tuesday as his party’s standard bearer although he would like to do do better than 18 percent in a district where 30 percent of the voters are Republicans. To win in the Nov. 3 runoff, Harmer will need every last Republican vote and those of a bunch of independents and Democrats.

Even though Garamendi holds the lead, the SurveyUSA pollsters describe the top three in the Democratic field as “bunched” largely because in low turnout, stand alone special elections, it is very difficult to predict the outcome.

The numbers did reflect a surge in the candidacy of Anthony Woods, a gay Iraq War veteran from Fairfield. He has garnered considerable attention and even dollars although he probably doesn’t have enough time to overcome the strong name identification and hefty bank accounts of his better-known opponents in this accelerated special election cycle.

In response to the poll results, DeSaulnier’s campaign spokeswoman Katie Merrill says “the fact that the numbers didn’t change at all says to me they are not talking to anyone who has actually been targeted in this election,” Merrill wrote to me in an email. “All three campaigns were only mailing to about 60,000 households, so the SurveyUSA poll would have had to have found all of their sample from those 60,000 households to get a real sense of what’s happening in this race. That’s almost impossible given their methodology. They recognize that of course, which is why they describe us as all bunched together even though Garamendi is 9 points up in their poll.”

The only poll that really counts, of course, is Tuesday when the voters make their decisions. We’ll see then how closely the SurveyUSA poll tracks with the final results.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • Elwood

    The Marky Mark spokesshill is reduced to saying that the numbers haven’t changed, and that’s a GOOD thing!


    All together now, children!

    Sing along with Rebecca and Rich!

    Congressman Garamendi! Congressman Garamendi!

    Bartender Mark! Bartender Mark!

  • BBoatman

    Lisa, I suspect that Buchanan knows a great deal more than any of the recent name recognition ‘robo-polls’ would reveal – and the public FEC campaign expenditure reports give 5 clues as to what she knows.

    1. Data driven strategy: Very early on Buchanan did some $40,000 in polling which means that from the start she knew exactly who she needed to target to win and the messaging which would resonate with them.
    2. Organized well funded ground campaign from the start: The FEC reports show that during the last three months she has had approximately 200 paid walkers and the same number of paid phone workers laboring each and every of the 90 days.
    3. Door knocking: 200 workers x 4 hours per day x 15 doors per hour x 90 days = ~ 1 million households with face-to-face contact with actual voters discussing their concerns with targeted messaging, gathering data, and asking for their votes [repeatedly].
    4. Phoning: 200 workers x 8 hours per day x 20 calls per hours x 90 days = ~2.9 million calls made with actual voters discussing their concerns with targeted messaging, gathering data, and asking for their votes [repeatedly].
    5. Data driven tactics: Remember that nearly 2/3’s of this was done before the absentee ballots were sent out so Buchanan probably knows better than anyone or any poll which voters have already voted and for whom, who supports her, and which are truly undecided. With less than 3 days to go Buchanan’s opponents are flying blind and relying on shotgun tactics with volunteers to get-out-the-vote in 100+ degree weather. Meanwhile Buchanan’s campaign is using a rifle.

    I am not saying that this will overcome Garamendi’s name recognition, or DeSaulinier’s local establishment support, but in a low turnout election, this well funded textbook ‘below the radar’ ground campaign strategy might prove decisive and create a big surprise…we will see. What do others think as I’d love to hear?

  • BJD


    “Marky Marky” had the Humane Society passing out fliers in his favor at the Walnut Creek Farmers Market.

    Talk about King of special interests.

  • Arne Simonsen

    And the David Harmer campaign just continues to grow with a larger volunteer force manning a telephone bank and walking precincts.

  • BJD

    Arne, I like you and all and our face book chats are great, but Harmer is a crackerjack box candidate. Everything he says is from script; it’s boring and not genuine out all. I haven’t heard him say one thing to prove he isn’t a robot and that’s said. He has bad staff.

  • bernie quigley

    BBoatman: if Joan wins, her strategist will be vindicated and the rest of us will be shocked.

  • bernie quigley

    I’m guessing that the next step in her strategy is to send out a fubdraising letter after her surprise victory on tuesday asking us all to help her retire her debt. This is what Hillary did. I got a lot of emails asking me to kick in and help her retire her debt, and I didn’t even vote for her.

  • bernie quigley

    I think ‘she’s not one of the boys’ is the stupidest ad I’ve ever seen in my life.

  • Snark

    RE #3:

    And speaking of special interests, someone asked Garamendi the same question in response to his post all but declaring victory yesterday on Calitics.


  • Bob Loblaw

    Yawwwwnnnnn another meaningless poll. Robo calls?? are you freakin kiddin me?

    Garamendo from Sacramento can poll all day on his name ID, but the bottom line fact remains that her has ZERO history in this district. He has never been to a community meeting, answered a constituent letter, kissed a freakin baby, and its the people who have those personal relationships who will vote tomorrow…not people who vaguely recognize the Garamendo name.

    I’m also very curious about Joan Buchanan’s million dollar dump into her own campaign. You have to scratch your heard and ask why someone would drop that sort of coin for a job that pays $160,000.

  • Toilet Man


    You cannot be serious about Harmer. He will be flushed in the election run-off after the primary. There is no way he can win. This election like when you ran against DeSaulnier for state asemebly and and lost miserable. That is until you took another leg down and was replaced be DeSaulnier’s fundraiser on the antioch City council!! Whew!!!!!!

  • ted ford

    Garamendi’s 27% among those who have ‘already voted’ seals the deal. In effect, that’s an exit poll.

  • REW

    Cook – the pre-imminent expert on US Congressional campaigns – is correct in saying State Senator DeSaulnier has a good chance to win. DeSaulnier is well known in this district, he has strong orginizational and political support district-wide, and he has an excellent ground operation in place, including support from local labor unions who are expert at getting-out-the-vote. But beyond this, people like DeSaulnier – he’s done a great job as an elected official, he’s a really strong candidate for this race. People forget that he has run well -crushed really -previous political opponents. He’s a very good candidate, with little real baggage going into this race. The candidate with the baggage? Garamendi. He has zero political support in this district from local elected officials. He failed to get the Tauscher endorsement. or George Miller, or Tom Torlakson. He’s an obvious carpetbagger/outsider from the central valley, best exemplified by his campaigning in a ridiculous John-Wayne-cowboy get-up. He’s run four failed campaigns for Governor, and one for State Controller – he’s been a perennial candidate (and so has his wife -three failed campaigns for the legisalture). I mean the Garamendi “brand” has taken quite a hit with all these failed political campaigns under his belt, the perception out there is Garamendi is a sinking ship, and this ridiculous run for the CD 10 seat is an effort to reinvigorate a career that’s going nowhere. The word of mouth on Garamendi is bad, at least among the activist Democrats I know. There’s a perception he’s seen better days. So I don’t expect Garamendi to win.

  • Rich

    I like “Central Valley High, Sacramento ” , sung to the tune of John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High, Colorado”, as the theme song of Garamendi’s ridiculous campaign to become the Congressman from Contra Costa County, a place he’s only flown over from time to time on his way to LA to run for Governor. Garamendi is a lifelong Central Valley politician who is hard up for a job. Contra costa voters will see that, and vote accordingly, I believe.

  • ted ford

    To me, it is curious why Tauscher endorsed DeSaulnier rather than Buchanan or simply staying neutral in this campaign. I would imagine that Joan has been helpful to Elaine in the past; they live in the same community and presumably move in the same circles. Tauscher had the organization and the mailing lists. It seems quite a diss that Tauscher endorsed DeSaulnier. I wonder what the story is there.

  • Bob Loblaw


    its probably because Ellen Tauscher is fully aware that you can’t jump from San Ramon school board, via 2 wet weeks in the Assembly and be a viable forceful representative in Congress. There is a bit of a learning curve. She endorsed the candidate with the best resume and character for the job.

  • ted ford

    There’s going to be some ill feeling after this one.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Its a democratic primary, also known in the business as fratricide….unless you are Joan Buchanan and then its Sororicide.

  • It would be a breath of fresh air for DeSaulnier to loose, however, he wou;d probably just look for the next empty chair in his neverending rotation. What will be interesting is when he looses that means his seat doesn’t open and all those who are lined up for the vacated progression of seats would have to stay and finish a full term- what a concept! There are a lot of people who are tired of contributing and campaigning for a candidate for one seat and have them turn and start running for another seat before their name tags have even been made permanent.

  • Mary Jo

    Garamendi will lose.

  • BJD

    I would love to see Buchanan have someone run against her for the Democratic ticket.

  • Elwood

    Gee, Mary Jo, what a convincing argument!

    Truly brilliant!

  • Steve Bloom

    How much of that $850k has Joan actually spent? Dumping personal money into a campaign account in order to appear competitive and then not spending it is a common ploy.

  • BBoatman

    I suspect Buchanan increased her spending since the last FEC report and has already topped $1M in spend which, if what I hear is correct, is only a very very very very small portion of her personal wealth.

  • bernie quigley

    well at least she will have her wealth as consolation on wednesday morning.

  • eddy vallejo

    Garamendi must loose if he won arnold would appoint maybe a republican as lt gov, 3yrs ago i voted for Garamendi i sent him 4 e-mails he never really answered my question i got a electronic thank you but no answer.

  • garcohsf

    Gosh, pretty darn close–

    Garamendi — 26.15%
    Harmer — 20.58
    DeSaulnier — 17.55
    Buchanan — 12.00
    Woods — 8.48

    It looks like the poll was spot on, within about 1% of the actual totals, and only slightly underestimating the size of Garamendi’s plurality.