Kashkari May Have Advantage, Despite Low Poll Numbers

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
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The latest polls have Republican Businessman Neel Kashkari in fourth place in the California governor’s race. But observers say his campaign may actually have a strategic advantage.

Looking at the numbers, the situation looks grim for Kashkari. He received support from just 2 percent of likely voters in a recent poll. That trails Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount, who’s polling at 3 percent, and is well behind tea party Assemblyman Tim Donnelly who has 17 percent. Governor Jerry Brown leads with 57 percent.

But Republican political consultant Mike Madrid points out Kashkari has about $1 million cash on hand, while Donnelly reports just about $11,000.

“As a tactician, as a political strategist, I would much rather be Neel Kashkari at this point in the race than Tim Donnelly.  And the reason is this, it’s very simple, money,” Madrid says. “Neel Kashkari has a million dollars cash on hand. And while that’s not a lot in California, it’s a million dollars more than Tim Donnelly has.”

Madrid says, while Donnelly’s 17 percent may sound impressive, that’s likely as high as he’ll go. 20 percent of likely voters remain undecided. Madrid says Kashkari’s campaign is smart to focus on Brown and ignore Donnelly. 

“I would not address him at all because there’s no name ID at all, for any of them,” he says. “Some people have suggested that going negative… on him makes sense. Well, that’s absurd. Why would you go negative and raise name ID on someone who has no name ID?”

As the primary draws closer and voters begin paying attention, Madrid says Kashkari’s advertising is likely to increase. And more name recognition could better position Kashkari to make it into the general election.

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