By Jim Ellis
June 17, 2019 — A new large-sample Golden State poll released from the University of California at Berkeley and the Los Angeles Times (June 4-10; 2,131 likely California Democratic primary voters from a pool of 4,435 registered voters) yields some surprising results. The three most unexpected findings first show a tight race among the four top contenders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) surging into second place, and home-state Sen. Kamala Harris only finishing fourth but not substantially behind.
The California primary, scheduled for March 3, possesses the largest number of first-ballot delegates of any state or territory. The state’s 416 first-ballot delegates, 272 of whom are divided among the 53 congressional districts and 144 at-large, will certainly help set the tone over how the Democratic National Convention unfolds.
Sen. Harris, who could well be the indicator candidate as to what scenario will occur at the convention, (i.e., will one candidate be able to coalesce a majority coalition on the first or second ballot or does the nomination battle fall into a multi-ballot contest) must score big in her home state, and this latest survey suggests her path is challenging but doable.
The Berkeley/LA Times study sees former Vice President Joe Biden holding a smaller lead than in past surveys, as he polls 22 percent first-choice responses. Sen. Warren makes a major jump into second place and records 18 percent, one of her best showings in any poll. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has been dipping in polling across the country, places third at 17 percent, and Sen. Harris trails in fourth position, but is still clearly in the game at 13 percent.
Polling from around the country within the last 10 days, and this California study is obviously no exception, has been projecting a tighter Democratic race. Though Biden still leads, his advantage is lessening.