By Jim EllisSept. 25, 2019 — The Capitol Weekly firm in California has been tracking the Golden State electorate monthly since April, and their September data shows a significant change from August. Now, it is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) eclipsing former Vice President Joe Biden for the lead and coming all the way from last place in the original track to post an unweighted 33.1 percent support factor in September.
Biden, on the other hand, began with an unweighted 20.4 percent preference from a universe of over 5,000 individuals from which selected respondents were polled in April. This was the best score among the candidates at the time, but the former vice president and veteran senator began to seesaw through the succeeding months after rising to a high of 29.6 percent in May. Gradually he began dropping to his September level of 18.0 percent, now well behind Sen. Warren and less than one point ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
The September weighted numbers from the 599 most likely Democratic primary voters find Sen. Warren leading with 29 percent, Sen. Sanders moving into second with 21 percent, Biden with 18 percent, and home-state Sen. Kamala Harris dropping to just 11 percent from her high of 20.6 percent in July.
The California vote is critically important to winning the nomination because the state possesses 416 first-ballot delegates at the Democratic National Convention. Texas has the second-largest delegation with 228 first-ballot delegates, thus providing a measure of California’s prominence within the Democratic nomination process. Under the weighted percentages, Sens. Warren, Sanders, and Biden would be the only candidates to qualify for delegate apportionment because they would exceed the minimum 15 percent threshold.
The underlying questions asked of September’s weighted respondents reveal an even more stark difference between Warren and Biden. It is here where we see a fundamental shifting of strength between the two, with her on the ascent and him falling back.
The Capitol Weekly pollsters then asked the sampling group, who is their second choice? Again, Sen. Warren places first with 25 percent while Sen. Harris is next with 18 percent. Biden drops all the way to fourth on this response tabulation with only 12 percent of the people saying they would support him if their first choice was no longer in the race.
The pollsters next asked which of the candidates the respondents would like to learn more about. Here, again, Sen. Warren topped the list with a mention rate of 19 percent. On this question, Biden drops all the way down to seven percent, fifth on the list behind Sen. Harris (16 percent), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (14 percent), and New York City entrepreneur Andrew Yang (eight percent).
Finally, they asked for whom the respondents would vote if electability wasn’t a concern. One of the areas where Biden commands strength surrounds the perception that he would be the most formidable Democratic candidate to oppose President Trump. If unseating Trump weren’t a primary factor, Biden’s support would drop to only 12 percent, falling well behind not only Sen. Warren, who would post 26 percent within this configuration, but also Sen. Sanders’ 20 percent. Even Mayor Buttigieg moves past Biden on this question with 13 percent support.
Though this poll is a part of a long-term track with high error factors, the data clearly tells us that Sen. Warren is moving upward in California while Biden is showing serious signs of political weakness in the state with the largest delegation. However, while Sen. Warren is enjoying well-defined momentum now, her mobility may prove difficult to sustain within such a large candidate field over the next five months.