By Jim EllisJan. 13, 2020 — The new Capitol Weekly research survey (Jan. 1-9; 1,053 likely California Democratic primary voters) finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) taking a slight polling lead in the California Democratic primary over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Vice President Joe Biden, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in what is consistently becoming a closely bunched field.
With two months to go before the Golden State primary is conducted but less than a month before early voting begins there on Feb. 3, the possibility of multiple candidates receiving portions of the state’s 415 first ballot delegates is becoming very real.
Sanders leads Warren, Biden, and Buttigieg by a 24-21-20-11 percent spread. Under party rules, a candidate must secure 15 percent of the statewide vote to earn at-large delegates. Therefore, Buttigieg must work to gain strength during the remaining time in order to reap the all-important mandated delegate commitments.
If he were to obtain 15 percent, and the others remained constant with these present percentages, the at-large delegate division would break 43 for Sanders and 38 for Warren, while Biden would earn 36 and Buttigieg 27 votes.
Should only the top three qualify for at-large delegate apportionment, Sanders would earn 53 votes, Warren 46, and Biden 45. Therefore, Buttigieg qualifying would significantly change the state and overall race because the large California delegation will be a major presence at the Democratic National Convention.
Scoring at-large delegate commitments is not the only way to earn votes, however. A larger total of 271 delegates will be awarded through the state’s 53 congressional districts. Each district, based upon its historical support performance for Democratic candidates, is awarded between 4 and 7 delegates, inclusive.