Poll shows Dave Cortese leads Senate race; opponent calls it unethical
Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese is pictured in this file photo. Photo by David Alexander.

A new poll obtained by San José Spotlight shows Santa Clara Supervisor Dave Cortese has a double-digit lead in the November Senate race, but his opponent is calling foul.

The poll, conducted by EMC Research, surveyed 815 likely voters in state Senate District 15 between June 11 and 19. It found that Cortese is “well-positioned” for the November race, with 41% of respondents would vote for him in the race today. His opponent, attorney Ann Ravel, who received an endorsement from former U.S. President Barack Obama this week, has 23% of voters support, the survey shows.

“It’s a good time to have this lead and this data to back up our campaign,” Cortese told San José Spotlight Thursday. “But we still have a lot of work to do.”

The poll, which was funded by Cortese’s campaign, was quickly dismissed by Ravel’s campaign as “misleading” and “unethical.”

More than one third of voters–– or 36%–– said they’re undecided or will not vote in the race to replace Sen. Jim Beall, whose seat opens in November due to term limits. The poll has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points and was offered in English, Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese.

An EMC Research poll shows Santa Clara Supervisor Dave Cortese having a double-digit lead over his opponent in the state Senate race.

Ravel’s campaign pushed back on the poll’s results, saying a two-month-old survey doesn’t reflect the current climate among voters.

“This is a push poll,” Ravel’s campaign consultant Eric Jaye said Thursday. “It is pretty extraordinary how misleading and unethical this is to release a poll conducted in June at this moment.”

Ravel, appointed by Obama in 2013 to serve on the Federal Election Commission, had previously served as chair of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission and Santa Clara County’s chief attorney. A first-time candidate, Ravel came in second with 22% of the primary vote, locking her spot in the general election in November.

Cortese came in first with 34% of the vote.

Ravel nabbed endorsements from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, County Assessor Larry Stone, District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Supervisors Joe Simitian and Susan Ellenberg, among others. She had hoped that Obama’s recent endorsement will continue to boost her profile before ballots get to voters in October.

Cortese is endorsed by the California Democratic Party, local teachers, nurses, firefighters, Rep. Ro Khanna, Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Sheriff Laurie Smith, among others.

“Cortese is worried. He is panicking,” Jaye said of the timing of the poll’s release. “This poll is designed to mislead.”

After pollsters provided biographical information about the two candidates, Cortese’s numbers remained at 41%, while Ravel’s favorability spikes to 31% from 23%. But Cortese still leads by 10 points, the survey shows. Twenty eight percent of voters remained undecided or wouldn’t vote in the race.

Cortese maintains a comfortable lead over Ravel after voters are given information of the candidates’ background. Screenshot of the survey.

Cortese also leads by 20 points after voters received a presentation with “positive information,” basic information and endorsers of the two candidates, the survey found. The presentation significantly helped voters who were still undecided, dropping the rate to 14% from 21%.

“I think that’s not a deciding factor,” Cortese said of the Obama’s endorsement. “We also worked closely with the Obama administration on a number of issues including immigration, DACA and homelessness. My opponent has some credentials with the former president, but so have I.”

Cortese led a 20-point lead over Ravel, after voters are being given information of their background, affiliation and endorsers, an August poll shows. Screenshot from the survey.

A veteran lawmaker in South Bay, Cortese has another advantage over Ravel, the poll found. Nearly half of voters are not familiar with Ravel and her work in fighting for campaign finance reform and transparency measures, while only 24% are not familiar with Cortese.

Cortese also fares better than Ravel across key demographics constituencies, with 44% of Latinx voters and 44% of Democratic women supporting his campaign, the survey shows. Ravel receives 23% and 31%, respectively, of voters support from the same groups.

Cortese said Thursday that he trusts EMC Research and its polls, saying the institute is “one of the top firms in the state.”

Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.

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