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Poll Shows Darrell Issa With Double-Digit Lead Over Ammar Campa-Najjar

50th Congressional candidates Ammar Campa-Najjar (left) and Darrell Issa (rig...

Credit: Campaign Photos

Above: 50th Congressional candidates Ammar Campa-Najjar (left) and Darrell Issa (right) in this undated photo

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A new poll shows a wide lead by the Republican candidate, suggesting the race for the 50th Congressional District may not be as close as previously thought.

Aired: October 29, 2020 | Transcript

A new poll suggests the race for the 50th Congressional District may not be as close as previously thought. According to a SurveyUSA poll of more than 500 likely voters, 51% said they were supporting Issa while just 40% said Campa-Najjar with 9% still undecided.

"I was frankly surprised at how close the last poll was and I’m a bit surprised at how big the margin is now," said UC San Diego political science professor Thad Kousser. Kousser said he thinks Issa's lead is actually between 5 and 8 percentage points.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

The latest registration numbers show 40% of voters in the 50th are registered Republicans, while 30% are Democrats.

Video by Matt Hoffman

"I wouldn't write Campa-Najjar off based on one poll. That’s premature. We don't know what will happen with turnout," said San Diego State political science professor Benjamin Gonzalez O'Brien.

RELATED: 50th Congressional Race: Republican Darrell Issa Vs. Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar

The poll has about a six percent margin of error, meaning Issa’s lead could be slim.

"The fact that both candidates are still spending so much money in this race shows maybe that their internal polling — Ammar Campa Najjar may still have the chance," Kousser said.

High turnout among Republicans is expected on Election Day. In the SurveyUSA poll, 30% of respondents said they had already voted and, among those, just over 50% said they cast their ballot for Campa-Najjar.

"What you’re hoping for (as Democrats) is maybe some of those Republicans and independents that are breaking toward Issa ... maybe they don't turn out on election day," Gonzalez O'Brien said. "Maybe they change their mind at the last minute. It’s always better to have banked votes than to be waiting for votes coming in on Election Day."

RELATED: Local Democrats Angered By 50th District Candidate Campa-Najjar’s Interview With Far-Right Group

The double-digit lead for Issa comes two weeks after both candidates did sit-down interviews with the controversial Facebook group Defend East County.

During that interview Campa-Najjar said his vote for President was still open, and that he he would likely support Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court and, if elected, he would consider investigating Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Campa-Najjar has since voted for Biden and apologized for meeting with the group, but his comments angered some Democrats.

At this point, both Gonzalez O'Brien and Kousser do not think that is the reason for the sudden drop in polling.

"I don't think there has been any major campaign event that has changed this," Kousser said. "This is a strongly Republican district that has brought this imported incumbent Darrell Issa, who is not tethered to any of the scandal that Duncan Hunter had."

Darrell Issa represented San Diego's 49th Congressional District for 18 years.

Hunter pleaded guilty to misusing more than $250,000 in campaign funds and resigned earlier this year, leaving the district with no Congressional representation.

"Duncan Hunter was a pretty damaged candidate and what we're seeing is a solid Republican (Issa) in a relatively Republican district and a very well financed one," Gonzalez O'Brien said.

Issa has raised $12 million dollars, $8 million of which has been loaned or given by Issa himself. Campa-Najjar has raised just over $5 million dollars.

The SurveyUSA poll shows 88% of Republicans plan to, or have voted for Issa while 92% of Democrats have or plan to vote for Campa-Najjar. The poll did note that support among independents has changed dramatically over the last six weeks. In September Campa-Najjar had a 13 point lead among independent voters which has shifted to a 14 point deficit.

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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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