The Republican contest has also outpaced the California polls. In the same December survey, former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani led with 25%, compared with 17% for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 15% for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and 12% for Arizona Sen. John McCain.
"I don't think there's any question they've outspent us in the election in California, but if money alone made the difference, it would have been Mitt Romney [winning] in Iowa, not Huckabee," said Bill Jones, the former secretary of state who is co-chairman of McCain's state campaign.
So far in California, Republican organizational strength belongs to Romney and Giuliani. Bill Simon, the 2002 gubernatorial nominee who is running Giuliani's campaign here, said Monday that the campaign assumes many of the mail-in votes will be cast quickly.
"If you figure maybe 50% overall is cast by absentees and half of those cast in the next 10-14 days, you've got to be on your pony riding around," he said. "It's game time now."
Simon said the Giuliani campaign has made hundreds of thousands of phone calls, even as the candidate campaigns in New Hampshire and puts more resources into the Jan. 29 Florida primary, which he hopes will vault him into Feb. 5 with momentum.
As with each of the major campaigns, the Giuliani effort involves an ever-changing focus, as strategists and volunteers try to secure the vote in each of the 53 congressional districts.
Romney's campaign has been targeting its voters and trying to persuade early voters to return the ballots immediately, according to strategist Rob Stutzman.
"You cash the check while you've got it in your hand," he said.