• Memos

State of the Race: Underdog Barbara Lee in strong contention to place in Top Two primary

To: Interested Parties
From: Barbara Lee for U.S. Senate campaign
Re: State of the Race: Underdog Barbara Lee in strong contention to place in Top Two primary

Three months after announcing her candidacy for U.S. Senate against two far better-funded Democratic competitors that were already in the race, Congresswoman Barbara Lee is in strong contention to finish in the Top Two in the March primary. With her unmatched record of progressive accomplishments, strong base of support with Democratic activists, and more high-profile endorsements than her opponents, internal polling data show that if Congresswoman Lee can raise enough resources to run a targeted media and ground campaign, she is well-positioned to advance to the general election.

“Congresswoman Barbara Lee shows a remarkable potential to expand her support once voters learn more about her.”

Internal Campaign Polling Shows Race in Statistical Dead Heat When Voters Hear Information about All Candidates. The media has focused on the initial horse race numbers in all of the public and private polling to date, which show a wide open and still unformed race.  The Lee campaign’s publicly-released poll takes the next step of introducing the candidates and relaying the messages that campaigns will deliver in the coming months; it shows that Congresswoman Lee pulls into a statistical tie with Porter and Schiff when voters hear equal positive information about all three candidates.

The poll, conducted by the highly respected polling teams of FM3 Research, EVITARUS, and HIT Strategies, found:

In particular, given that she starts out with a lower level of name recognition than her Democratic opponents, Congresswoman Barbara Lee shows a remarkable potential to expand her support once voters learn more about her – nearly doubling her backing from 11% to 20%.  The survey data confirm that the race will be highly competitive, and that once voters learn more about all three candidates they are all competitive in a race for a spot among the top two candidates that will head to a November runoff. 
These results show that Barbara Lee’s unique background and life experiences and successful track record of fighting for progressive values and passing progressive legislation resonate with primary voters. Her support spans a broad and diverse coalition, including younger voters and voters of color.

“Barbara Lee doesn’t need as much money. She just needs enough money to get through the Top Two.”

Lee doesn’t need as much money as her opponents. She just needs enough to get her into the Top Two. With multiple candidates in the race, Barbara Lee will likely only need 27% of the vote to place in the Top Two in March and advance to the general election. Congresswoman Lee’s path to victory is a targeted communications and ground campaign to the swath of voters that move to her when they hear her message, as well as the messages of her opponents. A $10 million voter communications budget in the primary will allow Congresswoman Lee to get her message out and advance to the general election – a goal she is well on her way to reaching.

“Lee supporters were the loudest and most visible at the convention.”


Lee’s progressive activist base is the key to victory. Given that she has a progressive record unmatched by anyone in the race, Barbara Lee is uniquely positioned among all the candidates to activate the progressive base to launch her to victory in March. Her immense popularity among Democratic activists was on full display at the California Democratic convention in May. Congresswoman Lee was mobbed by delegates and activists from around the state. She had the most enthusiastic response at the largest caucuses, such as the Labor Caucus and the Women’s Caucus. And she by far had the largest number of people at the event she hosted for delegates at the convention.

“In case you’re keeping score: @BarbaraLeeForCA is 5-for-5 on landing the endorsements of California’s statewide elected officials.”

Doug Sovern, KCBS Radio

Endorsements show depth and breadth of Lee’s support for Senate.  Barbara Lee continues to rack up an impressive list of endorsers from around the state and country, showing the power and strength of her candidacy. She has the most endorsements from statewide elected officialsboasting support from five of the eight constitutional officers – Attorney General Rob Bonta, Treasurer Fiona Ma, Controller Malia Cohen, Secretary of State Shirley Weber, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. In addition, Congresswoman Lee continues to secure endorsements from local elected officials from across the state, including in critical areas such as Orange County, the Inland Empire, and Los Angeles County.

Three months after announcing her candidacy, Barbara Lee’s path to the general election is clear, if she has the resources necessary to get her message out, through the media and on the ground, to the narrow swath of voters she needs to place in the Top Two.