Poll: Bernie Sanders Leads in California as Joe Biden Sinks

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, speaks as former Vice President Joe Biden, right, listens Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is leading in California as former Vice President Joe Biden (D) sinks, a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times and released this week found.

The poll, taken November 21 -27, 2019, among 1,694 Californians who are likely to vote in the Democrat presidential primary, found Sanders leading with 24 percent support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who overwhelmingly led in September’s poll with 29 percent support, fell to second place with 22 percent. Biden came in third place with 14 percent support – a six-point drop from the 20 percent support he saw in September. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) followed closely behind with 12 percent support.

While Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is no longer in the race, she came in fifth place, garnering only seven percent support in her home state. However, the poll found that Warren and Biden stood to benefit the most from her departure:

The poll was taken before California Sen. Kamala Harris dropped out of the race.It asked whom her supporters would name as their second choice if she quit and found that Warren and Biden would benefit the most. If Harris voters were reallocated based on those responses, the race would tighten at the top to Sanders, 25%; Warren, 24%; Biden, 17%; Buttigieg, 13%.

The poll’s margin of error is +/- four percent.

Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS Poll, said the race at this point is “unusually fluid.”

“Voters are struggling and not sticking with their candidates,” he said, according to the LA Times. “They are moving around from candidate to candidate.”

California is a key part of billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Super Tuesday strategy. The UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies Poll, however, was wrapping up – or “three-quarters complete” – as he launched his advertising blitz, so the full effect it has had on potential voters is not fully known.

The LA Times reports:

The Berkeley IGS poll, which was three-quarters complete before Bloomberg’s ads started running, found 8% were considering voting for Bloomberg.

Whether his big spending on ads can change the negative image he brings to the race will be a test of the power of money in politics, but the record on such efforts — by rich presidential candidates such as Ross Perot, who ran as an independent in 1992, and Steve Forbes, a Republican candidate in 2000 — is not promising.

Overall, the poll showed Sanders rising, Warren trying to steady her footing, and more moderate voters flocking to Buttigieg, which is having a negative impact on Biden’s position in the polls.

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