Poll: California presidential primary wide open
WASHINGTON — With the Democratic presidential field now largely set, the race in the nation’s largest state is wide open, with at least five candidates in serious contention and no clear favorite.
The findings from a University of California, Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, done for the Los Angeles Times, provide bad news for some of the contenders, starting with Sen. Kamala Harris.
Harris needs strong support in the primary of her home state of California if she is to have a shot at the party’s presidential nomination. The poll finds her in fourth place, albeit narrowly, trailing former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Harris draws consistent support from across demographic groups and ideological lines and is widely cited as a second choice by voters, but she has no constituency that she dominates, the poll found.
Although Biden leads the race, he’s far from a commanding front-runner in the state that will send the largest group of delegates to next year’s Democratic nominating convention.
Biden has support from 22% of likely Democratic primary voters, the poll found. That’s similar to his level in a recent poll of voters in Iowa, which holds the first contest of the primary season, but well below his standing in some national surveys.
Warren and Sanders followed close behind, with 18% and 17% respectively, essentially a tie.
Harris, at 13%, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., at 10%, round out the top tier. No other candidate topped 3%, and many received less than half a point of support.
“Our poll indicates that the contest is a wide-open affair, with five candidates in double digits and none dominating,” said Mark DiCamillo, the veteran pollster who directs the Berkeley IGS Poll.
Since candidates in California’s primary can only gain delegates by winning at least 15% of the vote, either statewide or by congressional district, “the battle could become fierce.”
“California’s role in deciding the Democratic nominee will be huge,” said DiCamillo.
The poll, which also asked voters about issue priorities, surveyed 2,131 California voters deemed likely to cast ballots in the Democratic primary. It tested support for 18 candidates who had met the requirements to qualify for the first Democratic primary debate as of the beginning of this month, when the survey began. The primary is open to registered Democrats and nonparty voters.
The likely primary voters were among 4,435 registered voters statewide surveyed by the poll, conducted online June 4-10.
The poll results have an estimated sampling error of roughly 3 percentage points in either direction.
For Warren, the poll reinforces national surveys that have shown her gaining ground in recent weeks and comes amid strong signs of grass-roots support in the state.
She drew a crowd of more than 6,000 to an appearance in Oakland on the eve of the California Democratic Party convention early this month. At the party gathering in San Francisco, she was by far the most enthusiastically received of the numerous candidates who spoke to the 5,000 delegates and their guests.
Many were obviously familiar with her: The crowd gave a knowing laugh when the Massachusetts senator launched into her detail-laden speech by declaring, “I have a plan for that” — a line that has become a campaign mantra for her.
The result is more problematic for Sanders, Warren’s rival for support of voters on the left.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at the “2019 We The People Membership Forum” on April 1 in Washington, D.C.