POLL: Gay marriage supporters back challenger in San Diego County clerk race

SAN DIEGO - With less than a week to go until the primary election, more than 4 in 10 people are still undecided on who they will vote for in the San Diego County clerk race, according to a new 10News poll conducted by SurveyUSA.

The poll results released Friday found that 44 percent of the likeliest voters were unsure on which way they leaned in the race between incumbent Ernie Dronenburg and challenger Susan Guinn. Among decided voters, Dronenburg held a narrow 21 to 19 percent lead over Guinn, a statistically insignificant lead.

"I find it shocking for an incumbent, countywide-elected official to be neck-and-neck with a veritable unkwown," said political analyst Laura Fink.

Among those who said they already returned their ballots, Dronenburg leads by a 31 to 21 percent margin.

Dronenburg is backed by conservative, older, upper-income men, while Guinn is backed by Democratic, lower-income women, SurveyUSA found.

Guinn has taken aim at Dronenburg's record, pointing out the county ranks at the bottom in the state when it comes to mistakes in property assessments and the number of outstanding assessment appeals.

But according to the poll, it's the gay marriage issue that could decide the race.

When asked whether Dronenburg's decision last year to issue a stay on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples impacted their vote, 41 percent of respondents said yes and 39 percent said no. 18 percent said the impact was minor.

Guinn, who is married to her partner and sits on the board of Equality California, said, "People don't want politicians who abuse their office for their own political agenda. But this race isn't about gay marriage. We don't want a career politician who isn't doing his job."

Experts don't expect any candidate to get the more than 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.

"We are not going to see a winner in June. This conversation will continue," said Fink.

Though it's a non-partisan race, Fink believes a runoff election could work to the advantage of Guinn, because typically, more Democrats turn out in November elections.

10News reached out to Dronenburg's campaign, but was told he had a busy workday and was unavailable.

Other notable findings:

  • Voters who want full marriage equality for same-sex couples back Guinn 24 to 17 percent.
  • Those who say same-sex couples should be given no legal recognition back Dronenburg 29 to 12 percent.
  • Voters who say the marriage issue has a major impact on their vote back Guinn 18 to 12 percent.
  • Those who say the marriage issue has no impact on their vote back Dronenburg 36 to 16 percent.

If neither candidate gets 50 percent Tuesday, the two will face each other in a November runoff election.

SurveyUSA interviewed 950 adults from San Diego County 05/27/14 through 05/29/14. Of the adults, 794 were registered to vote. Of the registered, 508 were determined by SurveyUSA to have already returned a ballot, or to be certain to do so before the 06/03/14 deadline. This research was conducted using blended-sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone (81% of likely voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (19% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device.

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