Harris pulls into virtual tie with Biden in home-state California: poll

Native Californian Sen. Kamala Harris has pulled into a virtual tie with Democratic nomination front-runner Joe Biden in the Golden State, according to a new poll.

A Quinnipiac University public opinion survey released Wednesday shows Harris, the state’s former attorney general, at 23 percent among California Democrats and voters leaning Democratic, with the former vice president at 21 percent. The slight edge for Harris is well within the poll’s sampling error.

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The survey is the latest to suggest a deterioration in Biden’s lead following his less-than-stellar performance late last month during the first round of Democratic presidential nomination debates.

Harris has seen her poll numbers soar since the debate, when she went on the attack against Biden, as she criticized recent comments by the former vice president spotlighting his ability to find common ground during the 1970s with segregationist senators with whom he disagreed, and over his opposition decades ago to federally mandated school busing.

“California Democrats catch the national wave as native daughter Kamala Harris leaps from promising contender to prominent player putting her neck and neck with former Vice President Joseph Biden,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. 

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California is expected to play a much more influential role in 2020 Democratic primaries. The state’s nominating contest – with nearly 500 delegates up for grabs – has moved up from June to early March. The Golden State  – the most populous in the nation – will be one of approximately 16 states and territories voting on Super Tuesday.

The Super Tuesday contests – on March 3, 2020 – follow directly after the early primary and caucus voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina in the presidential nominating calendar.

According to Quinnipiac’s new poll, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont stands at 18 percent, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 16 percent. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 3 percent and entrepreneur Andrew Yang’s at 2 percent, with Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas and former Housing and Urban Development Secy. Julian Castro each at 1 percent. Fifteen contenders scored less than 1 percent.

The survey’s seen a shift at the top from Quinnipiac’s last poll in California – conducted in April before Biden entered the White House race. Biden stood at 26 percent in that poll, with Sanders at 18 percent, Harris at 17 percent, and 7 percent for Warren.

While Sanders' support was unchanged, in the new poll, Warren jumped nine percentage points.

While Biden’s lost ground, the survey indicates the former vice president remains the candidate with the best chance of beating Republican President Trump in November 2020 in the eyes of those likely to vote in California’s Democratic primary.

Forty-five percent say Biden has the best chance to top Trump, with just 12 percent saying the same thing for Sanders and 11 percent for Harris.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted July 10-15, with 1,125 California voters – including 519 Democrats and Democratic leaners – questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s sampling error for questions on the 2020 Democratic primary are plus or minus 5.7 percentage points.