West Long Branch, NJ – Republican incumbent Duncan Hunter holds a sizable lead over Democratic challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar in the race for California’s 50th Congressional District, according to the Monmouth University Poll. Hunter, an early supporter of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid, is currently under federal indictment for campaign fraud. That doesn’t seem to faze some voters in this district. In fact, 1-in-10 voters who think Hunter is probably guilty of the charges are still willing to support his re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Hunter is supported by 49% and Campa-Najjar is supported by 41% of all potential voters – defined as voters who have participated in an election since 2010 or have newly registered to vote (a group that represents about 89% of all registered voters in the district). Another 10% are undecided. Hunter’s lead increases when applying two different likely voter models. A historical midterm model gives the incumbent a sizable 53% to 38% advantage over Campa-Najjar. A model that projects a possible turnout surge in the more competitive areas of the district still gives Hunter a healthy lead of 51% to 40%. All of these margins represent statistically significant leads.
Despite Hunter’s formidable lead in the poll, CA-50 voters are divided in their opinion of the five-term incumbent – 35% have a favorable opinion of Hunter, 33% have an unfavorable opinion, and 32% register no opinion. Campa-Najjar, a former Obama administration staffer, gets a 24% favorable and 16% unfavorable rating, with most voters (60%) saying they have no opinion of the challenger.
The campaign has been dominated by the recent federal indictment alleging that Hunter and his wife misused campaign funds for personal expenses. Just under 4-in-10 voters think that Hunter is either definitely (14%) or probably (25%) guilty of these charges and just over 1-in-5 say he is definitely (5%) or probably (16%) not guilty. Another 18% do not render a verdict about his guilt and 23% say they are not aware of Hunter’s legal troubles.
Among CA-50 voters who currently support Hunter, 21% lean toward thinking he is guilty, 41% say he is not guilty, 22% are unsure and 16% have not heard about this. Among Campa-Najjar voters, 59% think Hunter is guilty, only 1% say he is not, 10% are unsure and 29% are unaware. Among those who are still undecided, 37% lean toward thinking Hunter is guilty of the charges, just 8% say he is not, 29% are unsure and 27% are unaware. When these results are taken together, a total of 10% of CA-50’s electorate are voters who think Hunter is either definitely or probably guilty and are supporting his re-election.
“One in ten voters in this district think Hunter is probably guilty of campaign fraud, but they are going to vote for him anyway. I know this is a deep red district, but you’ve got to wonder if this isn’t taking partisan loyalty to a new extreme,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
In general, CA-50 is a solid GOP district, with voters there currently preferring to have the Republicans (46%) rather than the Democrats (32%) in control of Congress. In recent elections, the district voted for Mitt Romney for president by 23 points in 2012 and for Donald Trump by 15 points in 2016. Hunter won re-election to his House seat by 27 points two years ago.
While Trump did not do as well as Romney in this district, a majority of CA-50 voters (52%) say they approve of the job the president is doing while 42% disapprove. Those who strongly approve (39%) slightly outnumber those who strongly disapprove (35%), which is the reverse of what Monmouth has been finding in its polls of more competitive House districts this cycle. The current poll finds that 64% of potential CA-50 voters say it is very important for them to cast a vote for Congress that shows how they feel about the president – including similar numbers of Trump supporters (70%) and Trump opponents (71%).
A plurality of CA-50 voters (42%) say Hunter offers the right amount of support to Trump, compared to 22% who say he is too supportive of the president and 5% who say he is not supportive enough. As a point of comparison, 32% say that Campa-Najjar would offer current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi the right amount of support if elected, 27% say he would be too supportive of her, and 5% say he would not be supportive enough.
When asked to choose the most important issue in their vote for Congress from a list of six policy areas, immigration (24%) and health care (22%) compete for the top spot. They are followed by tax policy (14%), job creation (13%), gun control (13%), and abortion (8%). Hunter is trusted more to handle the issue of illegal immigration – 40% to 30% for Campa-Najjar, with 15% saying they trust both candidates equally. Voters are divided on whom they trust more to keep health care affordable – 32% say Campa-Najjar, 30% say Hunter, and 16% say they trust both candidates equally.
“In competitive districts, health care usually stands alone as the top policy concern, with the Democratic candidate holding a clear advantage on this issue. California’s 50th is not one of those competitive districts,” said Murray.
Hunter holds a substantial lead among white voters without a college degree (58% to 31%) and also has the edge among white voters with a college degree (50% to 42%) – a group that tends to prefer Democrats in the more competitive districts this year. Campa-Najjar has the advantage among non-white, mainly Hispanic, voters (57% to 33%) – although this group only makes up 29% of the potential voter pool in CA-50 and an even smaller proportion (22%) of Monmouth’s standard model likely electorate.
Looking at the district by region, the vote is divided at 45% for Campa-Najjar and 43% for Hunter in the neighboring cities of Escondido and San Marcos, which comprise the only populated area of the district that voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016. Unfortunately for the Democrat, only 3-in-10 voters live in these two cities. Hunter holds the lead (49% to 40%) in the remaining part of San Diego County and has an even bigger advantage (63% to 32%) in the small part of Riverside County that makes up the northern end of the district.
The Monmouth University Poll also finds that 64% of voters have a lot of interest in the election, which includes 70% of Hunter supporters and 69% of Campa-Najjar supporters.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from September 22 to 26, 2018 with 401 voters in California’s 50th Congressional District. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 5.3 percentage points for the likely voter models. The error of the gap between the two candidates’ vote share (i.e. the margin of the “lead”) is +/-6.9 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 7.4 percentage points for the likely voter models. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.
QUESTIONS AND RESULTS
(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)
1/2. If the election for U.S. House of Representatives in your district was today, would you vote for Duncan Hunter the Republican or Ammar Campa-Najjar the Democrat? [IF UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following at this moment, do you lean more toward Duncan Hunter or more toward Ammar Campa-Najjar?] [NAMES WERE ROTATED]
|With leaners|| |
|Likely Voter Models|
[QUESTIONS 3 & 4 WERE ROTATED]
3. Is your general impression of Duncan Hunter favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of him?
4. Is your general impression of Ammar Campa-Najjar favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of him?
5. How much interest do you have in the upcoming election for House of Representatives – a lot of interest, a little interest, or not much interest at all?
|Not much at all||9%|
|(VOL) Don’t Know||1%|
6. Have you been following the campaign in your congressional district very closely, somewhat closely, or not too closely?
|Not too closely||35%|
|(VOL) Don’t Know||0%|
7. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president? [Do you (approve/disapprove) strongly or somewhat?]
|(VOL) Don’t know||6%|
8. On most issues would you say you support or oppose what President Trump is doing?
|(VOL) Don’t know||5%|
9. How important is it for you to cast a vote for Congress that shows your [support of/opposition to] President Trump – very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important?
|Not too important||5%|
|Not at all important||7%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||10%|
10. Would you rather see the Republicans or the Democrats in control of Congress, or doesn’t this matter to you?
|Does not matter||19%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||3%|
[QUESTIONS 11 & 12 WERE ROTATED]
11. Has Duncan Hunter been too supportive of Donald Trump, not supportive enough, or has he given the right amount of support to Trump?
|Not supportive enough||5%|
|Right amount of support||42%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||32%|
12. If Ammar Campa-Najjar is elected do you think he will be too supportive of Nancy Pelosi, not supportive enough, or will he offer the right amount of support to Pelosi?
|Not supportive enough||5%|
|Right amount of support||32%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||36%|
13. Please tell me which one of the following policy issues is most important to you in your vote choice for Congress? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]
|Health care policy||22%|
|Gun control policy||13%|
|Job creation policy||13%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||3%|
[QUESTIONS 14 & 15 WERE ROTATED]
14. Who do you trust more to work to keep health care affordable – Duncan Hunter or Ammar Campa-Najjar, or do you trust both equally? [NAMES WERE ROTATED]
|(VOL) Neither one||8%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||13%|
15. Who do you trust more to handle the issue of illegal immigration – Duncan Hunter or Ammar Campa-Najjar, or do you trust both equally? [NAMES WERE ROTATED]
|(VOL) Neither one||5%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||10%|
16. Have you seen or heard recent news about Duncan Hunter being indicted for illegal use of campaign funds, or are you not aware of this? [If “YES”:] Do you think Duncan Hunter is definitely guilty of these charges, probably guilty, probably not guilty, or definitely not guilty?
|Probably not guilty||16%|
|Definitely not guilty||5%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||18%|
|Have not heard||23%|
17. How important is it for you personally to get involved in politics – very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important?
|Not too important||11%|
|Not at all important||7%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||2%|
The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 22 to 26, 2018 with a random sample of 401 potential voters in California’s 50th Congressional District, drawn from a list of registered voters who voted in at least one of the last four general or primary elections or have registered to vote since January 2016. This includes 245 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 156 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone in English and Spanish. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, party registration, age, gender, education and race based on state voter registration list and U.S. Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and L2 (voter sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
Self-Reported Party ID
|71% White, non-Hispanic|
|67% No college degree|
|33% 4-year college degree|
|29% San Diego County – Escondido/San Marcos|
|59% San Diego County – other|
|11% Riverside County|
Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.