A pair of polls show candidate Bill Dodd leading the District 4 Assembly race on name alone — and, with 53 days left, two dueling Davis Democrats threatening to knock each other from the race.
Not so fast, says the campaign of fellow Democrat Dan Wolk. It argues that a closer look bodes well for the Davis mayor pro tem.
And with Democratic Party votes divided, newcomer Charlie Schaupp, an Esparto Republican, looks to be angling for second place in the open primary.
The top two vote-getters in the June 3 primary will advance to the Nov. 4 general election, with a chance to replace termed-out Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis.
In a poll of 400 likely voters released by Dodd, 25 percent said they backed the Napa County supervisor, followed by 18 percent for Schaupp, 12 percent for Wolk, 10 percent for Democrat Joe Krovoza (Davis’ mayor) and 4 percent for Republican Dustin Call of Davis.
The poll was conducted March 26 to April 2 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent. Respondents were given only the name and ballot description — occupation and elected office — for the five candidates.
Wolk’s campaign responded not with a statement, but with polling data that it says tell a different story.
Based on name, party and occupation alone, it shows numbers that fell like this: Schaupp, 24 percent; Dodd, 16; Wolk, 14; Krovoza, 12; and Call, 6.
After voters were read “entirely positive” profiles of the candidates, however, Schaupp held steady, but Wolk moved up to second with 21 percent.
They were trailed by Dodd, 19 percent; Krovoza, 15; and Call, 3. Wolk’s poll was conducted March 23-25 and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.
Dodd’s pollster, Jim Moore, did not release further detail, but he said what he calls the “wine country” portion of the district — Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties, home to 63 percent of likely voters — falls in behind Dodd.
The four candidates of this side of the ridge are carving the “valley” portion of the electoral pie into too many slices, Moore said. Like Napa, Yolo County accounts for 31 percent of voters. Solano adds 6 percent.
Assuming a low turnout in a district which President Barack Obama carried by about 36 percentage points in 2012, Moore predicts the two Republicans will share 35 percent of the vote.
Given Dodd’s lead, then, “there aren’t enough votes for Dan Wolk or Joe Krovoza to make up this 13 to 15 percent distance.”
If the undecided voters are distributed evenly, Moore said, it would give Dodd 33 percent and Schaupp 28, followed by Wolk, 17 percent; Krovoza, 16; and Call, 5.
The firm hired by Wolk, GBA Strategies of Washington, D.C., deems it an undefined race between five candidates with low name recognition. It concludes that Wolk “has the strongest profile of any candidate in the race and as we simulate a campaign, Wolk gains the most ground.”
Wolk leads in Yolo, Dodd leads in Napa and Schaupp leads among Republicans, while the Democratic trio split unaffiliated voters, according to GBA.
The challenge for Wolk, then, will be raising his profile before the primary. At last check, he had $83,651 in the bank with which to do it, compared to $143,893 for Krovoza and a staggering $527,942 for Dodd.
Voters are responding to a mix of “fresh perspective” backed by business and county government experience, Dodd said.
“I think it’s great that my campaign is resonating throughout the district, but the ultimate goal is on June 3, so it doesn’t change my work ethic or what I’m going to do,” he said.
“With four of my competitors from Yolo County, I’ve got a lot of area to cover that I don’t have competition from, but nevertheless I’m working my way east — I’ve gotten some endorsements in Winters and have some signs up in Woodland.”
The poll results bode well for the upstart Schaupp, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Reserves officer, Iraq combat veteran and farmer.
“Considering I have only been in the race for about four weeks and the other candidates have been campaigning since before the first of the year, we are doing quite well in these poll numbers,” he said. “However, the only poll that counts is Election Day. I have my work cut out over the next six weeks.
“I expect that both Wolk and Krovoza will pull out the stops now and take aim at Dodd and myself if these poll numbers are correct,” Schaupp continued. “But I view that as a good thing as it will cause a frank discussion of the issues with the voters concerning the future of our state.”
Krovoza said that early polls show a race that “is in flux.”
“I am confident that as I continue to introduce myself to like-minded voters they will see that I am the candidate who is right on key issues such as fiscal sustainability, livable communities and education — all issues where I have great expertise and a long track record of success,” the mayor said in a statement.
Said Call, a legislative aide for a Southern California Republican and a part-time UC Davis student, “This poll only tells me that there are still plenty of opportunities to win support from undecided voters.”
— Reach Cory Golden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden