Applegate, who almost beat incumbent Rep. Darrell Issa in 2016, was the leader in the poll at 18 percent. But Rocky Chavez, who has represented the area in the state Assembly, was a close second at 17 percent.
The June 5 primary is still over three months away, and political observers cautioned that much could change before then.
But the first and second position are important because, under California’s primary system, the top two June primary vote-getters go to a November runoff, regardless of party.
A total of 12 candidates are running in the district, which stretches from the UC San Diego campus along the coast into south Orange County.