By Jim Ellis
July 5, 2018 — A new Public Policy Polling survey conducted for the liberal group, End Citizens United (June 22-24; 632 registered California voters) of the race in CA-22, finds Democratic challenger Andrew Janz closing the gap between he and veteran Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare/ Fresno) as the pair advance toward the November general election. According to the PPP results, Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who is leading the House oversight of the Justice Department’s Russia campaign collusion investigation, leads Janz, 49-41 percent.
The poll suggests that Janz, an attorney and first-time candidate who had already raised over $1.8 million through the middle of May, is competitive in the central California congressional district. However, as we look more closely at the poll, it is also important to note that the sponsoring organization, End Citizens United, is in no way supportive of Rep. Nunes, could be a vehicle for an independent expenditure supporting Janz, and we see that push questions were offered in order to form a specific conclusion.
After the initial ballot test question was asked, if the reported questionnaire order was, in fact, how the queries were presented to the individual 22nd District respondents, a series of statements were recited to the respondents that cast negative aspersions over Rep. Nunes accepting campaign contributions from “corporate special interests,” and saying that Janz will accept no such money.
The actual verbiage is as follows: “Andrew Janz is not taking any money from corporate special interests. His campaign is primarily funded by real people. If elected, Andrew Janz will work for the people of the Central Valley, not special interests in Washington. Devin Nunes has accepted over $600,000 in corporate PAC money and voted to give corporations a massive tax cut while raising taxes on thousands of Central Valley families. Having heard this, let me ask you again: The candidates for Congress this November are Democrat Andrew Janz and Republican Devin Nunes. If the election was today, who would you vote for?”
But, even after hearing such biased push questions culminating in the one above designed to tarnish Rep. Nunes, the incumbent still pulls a 46-43 percent lead within the polling sample.
For his part, the eight-term congressman is ready for a competitive campaign. Raising over $4.9 million for his 2018 re-election campaign and holding over $5 million in his campaign account, Rep. Nunes possessed financial resources greater than any other congressional candidate at the time of the California pre-primary disclosure report deadline (May 16).
President Trump carried the 22nd District, one of the safest Republican seats in this heavily Democratic state, 52-43 percent, down a net six points from Mitt Romney’s 57-42 percent performance in 2012. Though the district voter registration figures favor Republicans by 10 percentage points, the PPP polling sample gave them only a net seven-point advantage. On the other hand, the Hispanic sample was 13 points below the citizen voting age population demographic figure for the Central Valley district.
The 22nd District contains parts of Fresno and Tulare Counties. The northern boundary captures the eastern residential part of the city of Fresno, including the adjacent city of Clovis, before continuing southeast to annex the cities of Visalia and Tulare.