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Historic Low Turnout Expected In California For Presidential Primary

SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – The numbers are in and they're bleak in terms of turnout expected for Tuesday's presidential primary in the state of California.

A new Field Poll shows that voter turnout is expected to be 35 percent, equivalent to about 6 million Californians. Those numbers are historically low for a presidential primary in California as the previous low turnout during the modern era was 41.9 percent in 1996.

KCBS' Holly Quan Reports:

Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said part of the problem is that there is not a lot of political drama expected this year.

"There's nothing really at the top of the ticket and then you go down further and the U.S. Senate race seems to be a non-entity so far this year," said DiCamillo. "There hasn't really been any advertising in this race. It's just Dianne Feinstein and then all the rest and I guess the question is who will emerge as the competitor to Feinstein. But voters haven't heard much about it."

The Field Poll did find that for the first time in a California presidential primary election, a majority of voters – 55 percent – will vote by mail.

Another reason voter turnout will be light is that there are only two statewide measures on the ballot – Proposition 28 and 29.

Prop 28 asks voters to reconsider term limits for legislators. Prop 29 looks to hike cigarette taxes for cancer research.

Under new primary rules, the top two finishers in state and federal races, except for the president, will face off in November regardless of political affiliation.

The Field Poll found that most voters (74 percent) do not think the top-two primary system will confuse them.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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