Ben Bartlett in the lead for California State Assembly District 15, according to poll

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Shaun Lien/Staff

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A poll commissioned by the Ben Bartlett campaign found that Bartlett holds a slight lead over a large field of candidates for California State Assembly District 15, in which more than half of the voters are undecided.

City Councilmember Ben Bartlett released a statement to his voters Wednesday announcing that his campaign is in the lead, according to a recent poll of “likely voters” conducted by Lake Research Partners, a Democratic polling firm based in Berkeley. Bartlett is running against 11 other candidates to replace Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, who currently holds the position.

But David Mermin, a partner at Lake Research Partners, said the poll was a strategic poll by the Ben Bartlett campaign.

“They hired us to do this poll. That’s what all the candidates will be doing with their own campaign teams. In this case, the numbers came out pretty good,” Mermin said. “We didn’t know that would be the case going in, but since they were good, the campaign decided that they would share it with their supporters and donors.”

The poll had two parts: the initial ballot and the informed ballot.

The results state that in the initial ballot, Bartlett’s political base in Berkeley gives him a narrow lead over the other candidates with 10 percent of the vote on the primary ballot, followed by Jovanka Beckles with 7 percent and Judy Appel with 6 percent. Other candidates in the poll include Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, Buffy Wicks and Dan Kalb. The largest group of voters is undecided at 58 percent.

Informed ballots are ballot tests asked after pollsters present a positive profile of the candidates, their positions and their endorsements. In the informed ballot, Bartlett’s lead increases to 19 percent, with Wicks in second place at 12 percent. In this case, the undecided vote decreased to 39 percent.

In the results memo, however, five other candidates for the election were excluded: Cheryl Sudduth, Owen Poindexter, Pranav Jandhyala, Sergey Piterman and Raquella Thaman.

During the week of Feb. 12, Lake Research Partners conducted a live telephone survey among “500 likely June 2018 primary voters” in California’s 15th Assembly District to garner the results for the poll.

“500 is a really low number when you look at the amount of voters in the district,” Beckles said. “Oftentimes, everyday people aren’t the ones who are being polled. Polls tend to cover a population of people, not necessarily people who know the district or have been watching politics.”

According to Mermin, none of the candidates had ever run for an office that covers the whole region. Since most voters are not familiar with any of the candidates, many of them remain undecided.

The primary election will take place in June and the general election will take place in November.

Contact Jenny Weng at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jennyweng1999. Contact Jenny Weng at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jennyweng1999.