By Jim EllisFeb. 19, 2019 — A new Change Research poll was just released of the California Democratic presidential electorate and should former Vice President Joe Biden enter the race, he apparently would fare quite well in Sen. Kamala Harris’ home state.
According to the survey (Feb. 9-11; 948 likely California Democratic presidential primary voters) Biden and Sen. Harris would actually tie at 26 percent apiece. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT) closely trails with 20 percent.
Considering the delegate proportionality rules, the two men would score a handsome number of committed delegates in Sen. Harris’ own backyard if this poll happens to correctly predict what could happen a year from now.
California is projected to send 495 delegates to the July 2020 Democratic National Convention, the largest contingent from any state. If Sen. Harris is to become a first-tier presidential candidate, she will have to reap a major delegate bounty in her home domain. Thus, merely breaking even with Mr. Biden would certainly be considered a disappointment in her quest for the nomination.
The rest of the field trails badly. No one, aside from the top three, even breaks into double-digits. In this survey, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) is fourth with eight percent, followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren who posts a paltry seven percent, ahead of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) with three percent, while former Housing & Urban Development secretary Julian Castro holds a two percent preference.
Sen. Harris does dominate over a segmented field, however. Segmenting just the announced candidates to date, she would lead Sen. Warren 53-23 percent, with Sen. Booker rising to seven percent, and Castro to six percent. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) would get four percent support, South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg and ex-Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) would both record two percent, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), businessman Andrew Yang, and author Marianne Williamson all post one percent apiece.
This secondary segment really doesn’t tell us much. In addition to excluding ex-VP Biden, Sen. Sanders and ex-Rep. O’Rourke weren’t included, either. Moreover, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced her candidacy just as this poll was going into the field; hence, she was not added to the ballot test questionnaire.
Thus, we can conclude in this very early going that Sen. Harris, at least at the outset, scores highly among her current base constituents only if the bigger name candidates are not in the field. Though it is not completely certain that Biden will run, it seems very unlikely that all three of the aforementioned will not enter the race. Therefore, California appears in play.
The Golden State will play a critical role in the Democratic Party nomination process. Already the primary was moved from June all the way to March 3, the first allowable date for any state to vote other than the “First Four:” Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Yet, because of California’s early voting law, ballots may be cast as early as Feb. 3, the same date as the Iowa Caucus.
Therefore, because a minimum of 80 percent of the California presidential primary vote will be cast by mail, more people will be voting in California during the First Four period as will in those states, combined.
While the Golden State could well become 2020’s pre-eminent early voting state, its laborious counting process that typically concludes weeks after the election could blunt much of its definitive media coverage. Still, the large number of delegates at stake is the key factor that will draw the candidates away from making exclusive appearances in the First Four and divert them to California particularly if Sen. Harris proves only as strong as this Change Research poll indicates.