Plurality Oppose Secretary of State Request to Disqualify Fong

A new Inside California Politics/Emerson College Polling survey of California’s 20th Congressional District finds a plurality of voters (35%) undecided on which candidate they support to replace Representative Kevin McCarthy ahead of the March 5, 2024 primary. Republican Assemblyman Vince Fong leads the pack of candidates with the support of 27% of likely voters, while 11% support Republican Mike Boudreaux, 11% Democrat Marisa Wood, 8% Democrat Andy Morales, and 4% Republican Kyle Kirkland. 

“Fong’s support is 17 points higher among men than women, 36% to 19%,” Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, noted. “Forty-six percent of women are undecided compared to 24% of men. Women voters are more supportive than men of Wood, 13% to 8%.” 

The California Secretary of State asked a state appeals court to disqualify Assemblyman Vince Fong, a Republican representing Bakersfield, from running for Congress, since Fong is already on the ballot in California for his Assembly reelection. Half of voters (50%) oppose this request, 31% support, and 19% are unsure or have no opinion.

In the case Fong does not appear on the ballot, 33% of his supporters would vote for Boudreaux, 13% for Kirkland, and 39% do not have a second choice. 

  • Majorities of Morales (68%) and Wood voters (76%) support the Secretary of State’s efforts to disqualify Fong, while 91% of Fong voters and 58% of Boudreaux voters oppose the request. 

Voters are split on whether or not their former Representative Kevin McCarthy’s departure from the House of Representatives before the end of his Congressional term was appropriate: 40% think it was not appropriate for the former Congressman to leave office before the end of his term, 33% think it was appropriate, 28% are unsure or have no opinion on the matter. If it was up to voters, 39% would not want McCarthy to have resigned, 38% would have wanted him to resign, 23% are neutral or have no opinion. 

“McCarthy maintains the support of 61% of Republican voters who prefer him to have not resigned, while independents are split: 26% would still want him to have resigned, 32% not resign, 42% are neutral,” Kimball said. 

In the California Primary Election for US Senate to replace the late Dianne Feinstein, a plurality of 20th District voters (35%) are undecided. Twenty-seven percent plan to support former Dodger and Republican candidate Steve Garvey, 12% Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, 11% Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, and 6% Republican Eric Early. 

Immigration is the most important issue facing California for 29% of voters, followed by the economy (23%), housing affordability (14%), crime (11%), threats to democracy (5%), homelessness (5%), and healthcare (5%). 

Voters were asked how important they find two statements on immigration are for the United States. First, 83% find it important (14% somewhat important, 69% very important) that the United States requires people to apply for asylum before they travel to the United States-Mexico border, while 18% find it not important (9% not too important, 9% not at all important). Next, 61% find it important that the United States provide safe and sanitary conditions for asylum (22% somewhat important, 39% very important), while 40% find it not important (12% not too important, 28% not at all important).

Two in five voters in the district (40%) say they or someone in their immediate family has been the victim of a property crime in the last year, while 60% have not. Hispanic voters report being a victim of a property crime at a higher rate than white voters, 49% to 34%. 

Eighty-nine percent of residents are concerned about the declines in groundwater levels in the Central Valley (30% very concerned, 59% somewhat concerned), while 11% are not concerned (8% not too concerned, 3% not at all concerned). 

  • While all age demographics are concerned about declines in Central Valley groundwater levels, voters under 30 are most concerned at 98%, followed by those in their 30s, at 93%, and those 70 or over, at 92%. Voters in their 40s are least concerned among age groups at 80%. 


The Emerson College Polling/Inside California Politics California 20th District poll was conducted January 26-29, 2024. The sample consisted of 565 likely voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points. The data set was weighted by gender, age, party, race, and education based on US Census parameters, and California voter registration and voter turnout data by regions (CA SOS). Data was collected by contacting a list of cellphones (n=382) via MMS, landlines (n=121) via IVR, and emails (n=62) provided by Aristotle. 

It is important to remember that subsets based on demographics, such as gender, age, education, and race/ethnicity, carry with them higher credibility intervals, as the sample size is reduced. Survey results should be understood within the poll’s range of scores, and know that with a confidence interval of 95% a poll will fall outside the range of scores 1 in 20 times.

This survey was conducted by Emerson College Polling and sponsored by Nexstar Media. All questions asked in this survey with exact wording, along with full results and cross tabulations can be found here.