Poll: US Senate race draws a yawn from California voters; most say they have no preference

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LOS ANGELES — So far, California's U.S. Senate contest has been a snoozer.

An independent poll released Wednesday says the emerging race to find a successor for departing Democrat Barbara Boxer is off to an almost invisible start.

The Field Poll of about 800 likely voters indicates that nearly 60 percent had no preference in a field that includes two prominent state Democrats: state Attorney General Kamala Harris and 10-term Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of Orange County.

Voters "appear not to be giving much attention to next year's election," the survey said in a statement.

The results are not surprising because the June 2016 primary election is more than a year away and candidates have done little, if any, conventional campaigning.

Harris — a Democrat who joined the contest in January — has devoted most of her time to private fundraisers for a race that could cost $30 million or more. The survey says she was the top pick of about 2 of 10 voters.

Harris has sought to establish herself as the early front-runner, with more than $2 million in the bank and a long string of endorsements, including from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But for most voters, the race remains wide open, according to the poll.

Harris had the field mostly to herself for months until Sanchez jumped in Thursday.

Most of the poll was conducted before Sanchez entered the race, but she was the first choice of 8 percent.

Two-term Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez notched 6 percent as a first choice, the survey said. Another little-known Republican, former state GOP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro, was a top pick for 5 percent of those surveyed.

The telephone survey, conducted April 23 through May 16, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Likely voters in the June 2016 primary were asked to pick from a list of announced or potential candidates.

Under California's unusual election rules, all primary candidates appear on a single ballot, and voters can choose a candidate from any party. The two candidates receiving the most votes advance to the November general election, regardless of party affiliation.

Partisan loyalties were a major factor in the preferences, the poll says. For example, Harris, a Democrat, received only a sprinkle of Republican support.

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