California poll: Warren surges to second, Harris falls to fourth

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Elizabeth Warren’s surge into a tie with Bernie Sanders in a UC Berkeley-Los Angeles Times poll aligns with other recent polls that show her cutting into Sanders’ support with liberal voters. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren is threatening Joe Biden’s front-runner standing in California, and Kamala Harris is showing signs of weakness in her delegate-rich home state, according to a new poll.

A new UC Berkeley-Los Angeles Times poll found Biden leading with 22% of likely Democratic primary voters; followed by Warren and Sanders, who are at 18% and 17%, respectively.

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Harris (13%) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (10%) are the only other 2020 presidential contenders to exceed 3% in the survey, which was directed by pollster Mark DiCamillo, who for years led the venerable Field Poll.

Warren’s surge into a tie with Sanders aligns with other recent polls that show her cutting into Sanders’ support with liberal voters. But it’s particularly notable in the Super Tuesday state of California, where Sanders has set up camp since his 2016 loss to Hillary Clinton, and where his team has pointed to structural advantages that in mere months have seemed to dissipate.

An April Quinnipiac University poll of the California primary had Biden at 26% among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, followed by Sanders at 18% and Harris at 17%. Warren and Buttigieg were at 7%.

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In a show of force ahead of the state Democratic Party convention this month, Warren drew 6,500 to a Friday night speech in Oakland. Warren leads Sanders among women and older voters, the survey found, and a considerable share of her support comes from voters who self-identify as “very liberal.”

The poll serves as a blunt warning for Harris, who is banking on a surge of home-state support after a strong showing during the back half of early voting-in neighboring Nevada, and South Carolina, where African American voters form a decisive bloc. Organizationally, Harris is working to make up ground with Warren in Iowa, where the Massachusetts senator has built a formidable team. Harris is planning a hiring spree there that calls for bringing in 65 people.

In the California poll, Harris performed well across ethnic and demographic groups, and voters there consistently selected her as their second choice. But similar to her standing in the early states and nationally, she hasn’t caught fire with likely voters in the first few months of the race.

After Harris, who is the second-place choice of 21%, Warren stands at 17%. Sanders and Biden are in a tie at 12%. In perhaps a promising sign for Harris, and Buttigieg, who are 54 and 37 respectively, more than 8 in 10 voters indicated that being older than 70 is a disadvantage-Biden and Sanders are in their late 70s, and Warren is 69, with a birthday coming this month.

Similarly, a large majority said being a woman or person of color could help a candidate.

California will award nearly 500 delegates statewide, and by congressional district. To be eligible, candidates must meet 15% thresholds, with the largest share of delegates by district going to the bluest areas of the state.

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