Poll gives edge to republican incumbent in race for California's 21st congressional district

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Democrat Amanda Renteria has been stumping hard for votes, trying to get her name out there. (KFSN)

Democrat Amanda Renteria has been stumping hard for votes, trying to get her name out there.

Renteria explained, "The more folks get to know me, the more they hear our message the more they know we are on their side, and that's really what matters at the end of the day."

But the latest SurveyUSA Poll taken exclusively for Action News shows that among nearly 500 likely voters, 56 percent would cast their ballots for the incumbent congressman, Republican David Valadao if the vote took place today. While only 37 percent would vote for Renteria.

Political Science Professor Thomas Holyoke, of Fresno State feels Valadao has a nearly insurmountable lead.

"I am not surprised that Valadao is ahead, I am surprised that Valadao is ahead by that much, 20 percentage points, that is a huge lead," said Holyoke. "That is a lead we would almost call so comfortable Valadao could take the rest of the campaign off."

Reached by phone in Washington, Valadao welcomed the results.

Valadao said, "We obviously feel very good about everything and the way people have obviously responded to the work we've been putting representing them."

But Renteria says not so fast, there's two months until Election Day.

"Feels pretty normal for me, just like a couple months out of the primary everyone said we were losing two to one," said Renteria. "So we know, as a coach I know, this is the first quarter."

But on key issues, the SurveyUSA Poll showed 50% of likely voters say Valadao shares their view on water issues, compared to 29% for Renteria, and, even on immigration, Valadao's seen more favorably by a 13 percent margin over Renteria. And even in the predominantly Hispanic district, Renteria, who is of Mexican heritage gets just a slight edge over Valadao, who is of Portuguese ancestry.

All in all, Fresno State Professor Tom Holyoke believes Renteria will have to campaign hard.

Holyoke explained, "She really needs to frame a message that is positive about herself, negative about Valadao and get that in front of voters 24 -7 until election day if she really wants to turn this around."

The latest campaign finance report from July shows Valadao with nearly a million more dollars in the bank than Renteria.

Republicans have also made much of the fact the Democratic Central Committee has withheld $900,000 they planned to spend on Renteria's campaign this month. But such manipulation is common, and Renteria says the party's plan is to save that money until October, when the battle should really heat up before the November vote.

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