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Poll: Minorities, Republicans key in close state superintendent race

Craig Clough | November 3, 2014

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tuck torlaksonIn a race still too close to call, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction election between incumbent Tom Torlakson and Marshall Tuck may come down to an unlikely pairing of minorities and Republicans.

“There’s going to be a coalition of Republicans and minority voters if Tuck is going to do well on election day,” said Michael Madrid, an Unruh Institute fellow, on a panel conference call with reporters discussing the the latest results from a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times PollOnly 10 percent of Latino voters in California are registered Republicans and only 1 percent of blacks are Republicans, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

The poll shows Torlakson ahead of Tuck 32 percent to 29 percent with likely voters, with a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points and a huge percentage of likely voters, 28 percent, still undecided. The election will be held tomorrow.

“This race could easily go either way,” said Drew Lieberman of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research on the conference call.

Torlakson, a former teacher and state legislator, has the backing of the Democratic establishment and the state’s two large teachers unions. Tuck was a charter school administrator and has the backing of reform groups as well as editorial boards throughout the state.

Both candidates are Democrats, but Tuck has a 20 percent advantage with Republicans, according to the poll. Combined with the fact that the Latino vote tracks almost the same as likely voters, 33 percent favoring Torlakson to 28 percent for Tuck,  the two other groups are key to Tuck’s chances, according to Madrid, who is an expert on Latino voting trends and a former political director for the California Republican Party.

“I know there has been a concerted effort to make the argument, especially with the Vergara decision, the charter schools argument, where Marshall Tuck was overseeing some of those charter schools, there’s clearly going to be a push to turn out ethnic minority voters,” Madrid said. “That’s an area where you are seeing Marshall Tuck gain some more support than you might otherwise envision in a traditional Democrat on Democrat race.”

Click here to learn more about the Tuck vs. Torlakson race.

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