By Jim EllisOct. 1, 2018 — One of the more interesting asides for the coming election is whether the two indicted congressmen, California’s Duncan Hunter and New York’s Chris Collins, can still win re-election. Since the House partisan division may be close, every seat is of critical importance particularly to Republicans who are attempting to hold their tenuous majority and risk both of these seats.
Monmouth University just released their new poll in California’s 50th Congressional District, testing Rep. Duncan Hunter’s political strength. As you may remember, Hunter is under federal indictment for campaign finance violations.
According to the Monmouth data (Sept. 22-26; 401 potential CA-50 voters who have cast a ballot in at least one of the last four primary or general elections or have newly registered to vote since January 2016), Hunter still has majority support in a district that President Trump carried, 55-40 percent.
Monmouth has been testing different turnout models in all of their latest polls. They look at all registered voters, a standard midterm model, and one that features a “Democratic surge.” In this poll, as in many other Monmouth surveys around the country, the tested Democratic candidate performs better under the registered, or “all voters” model, than under a Democratic surge, so it’s unclear as to the value of the latter test framework.
In this case, Rep. Hunter (R-Alpine) would lead his Democratic opponent, communications consultant Ammar Campa-Najjar, 53-38 percent, if the turnout models a typical midterm election, 49-41 percent under an “all voters” universe, and 51-40 percent under the “Democratic surge.”
Not surprisingly, considering he is under indictment, Rep. Hunter’s favorability index has fallen. In this poll, it is 38:33 percent positive to negative. Campa-Najjar, still largely unknown, scores 24:16 percent.
Based upon this poll’s response, it appears the CA-50 electorate will turn out at a higher than average rate. Asked whether they have interest in, or are following this congressional campaign, 90 percent answered having “a lot” (64 percent) or “a little” (26 percent). A total of 65 percent answered they are following the campaign “closely” or “somewhat closely.”
In terms of Rep. Hunter’s legal situation, 14 percent of the total sampling universe say they believe he is guilty, and another 25 percent think he is probably guilty; 16 percent say he is probably not guilty and only five percent believe he is not guilty. Yet, his re-election lead is still rather substantial.
The 50th District is a Republican seat, so it is not surprising to see President Trump holding a 52:42 percent positive to negative job approval rating. The respondents also answered in a 49-41 percent clip that they support President Trump “on most issues.”
In this district that comes within a few miles of touching a portion of the United States-Mexico border, immigration is listed as the top issue of importance (24 percent), followed closely by healthcare (22 percent). Third is tax policy (14 percent), just ahead of job creation and gun control that both attract 13 percent.
Rep. Hunter is campaigning hard for re-election and not bashful about attacking his opponent. Campa-Najjar’s grandfather was one of the 1972 Munich Olympic terrorists who murdered 11 Israeli athletes, a fact that Hunter routinely mentions during campaign appearances.
Normally, this seat is not in play for a general election, but the extenuating circumstances make it a competitive district this year. It is one that should attract national attention on election night.