Bernie Sanders Focuses on California as He Surges in the Polls

DES MOINES, IA - NOVEMBER 09: Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during the Climate Crisis Summit at Drake University on November 9, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. Sanders spoke about the current state of climate change in relation to U.S. policy. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is increasing his campaign activity in California as a KQED poll shows him jumping to first place in the Golden State, days before the Democrat debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

While Sanders is not relying on a Super Tuesday strategy like his billionaire rival Michael Bloomberg, the socialist senator is “ramping up” his presence in California, months before the March 3 primary. He recently spoke to communities in both Coachella and Rancho Mirage and secured the endorsement of the Coachella City Council.

According to the Desert Sun, Sanders talked immigration with Californians, pledging “immediate action on immigration if he is elected president.” He’s expected to hold a town hall, focused on his multitrillion-dollar Green New Deal proposal, in Moreno Valley the day after Thursday’s debate and will return to Los Angeles on Saturday to stump alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been joining him on the campaign trail.

Sanders’ early focus in California reflects a shift in strategy from his 2016 campaign.

As the Desert Sun reported:

With California having moved up its primary to March, Sanders said his campaign is investing more resources in the state earlier in the election cycle than he did in 2016. He is hoping to drum up support by increasing voter turnout in often-overlooked communities like the eastern Coachella Valley. His new Coachella office, for instance, has opened in a space that that labor activist Cesar Chavez once used to organize for the United Farmworkers of America.

In an interview with The Desert Sun, Sanders pushed back against a question about how Latino voters figure into his California push, stressing that “all people fit into (his) California strategy,” but said that increasing turnout in cities like Coachella where it historically has been low will be a focus until Super Tuesday.

Recent polls show Sanders surging in the West Coast state. A KQED poll, conducted by Change Research from December 6-10, 2019, among 1,565 California voters, showed Sanders as the top choice, with 26 percent support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) followed with 23 percent support, Joe Biden (D) came in third place with 19 percent support, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) placed fourth with 12 percent support. No other candidate saw double-digit support.

Andrew Yang (D) led the lower tier with four percent support, and Bloomberg, who has spent over $5.4 million in ads in the Los Angeles media market since the launch of his presidential bid, came in with three percent.

The margin of error of +/- 3.3 percent suggests a race very much in flux:

The current RealClearPolitics average shows a tight race in California, with Biden, Sanders, and Warren battling for frontrunner status with 21.2 percent, 21 percent, and 19.6 percent, respectively.

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