Poll: Kamala Harris Support Grows as Democratic Field Widens

California Sen. Kamala Harris appears at a fundraiser for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., of which she is a member, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019 in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

(CN) – Amid an ever increasing number of Democratic presidential candidates, support for California Sen. Kamala Harris has surged according to a new poll released Tuesday, but former Vice President Joe Biden still leads the pack of 2020 White House hopefuls.

The CNN/SSRS poll shows support for Harris among Democrats increased from just 4 percent in December to 12 percent in March. Harris, who announced her candidacy in January on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was one of only four presidential hopefuls who broke into double digits.

Biden, who has yet to officially announce his bid, led the roster of candidates with 28 percent of Democrats. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who raised $5.9 million within 24 hours of announcing his run in February, came in second in the poll at 20 percent. Harris polled in third at 12 percent while former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke finished fourth with 11 percent.

The rest of the candidates failed to attain double-digit support, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 6 percent and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker at 3 percent. Candidates far at the bottom include former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand all polling at 1 percent.

The survey indicates that many Democratic hopefuls are going to have to distinguish themselves in order to pull away support from Sanders and Biden, two candidates with years of media exposure.

While only 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans polled said they had never heard of Sanders, 35 percent said they had never heard of O’Rourke and 54 percent said they didn’t know who Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was. The poll was taken March 14-17, during and after O’Rourke’s and Klobuchar’s candidacy announcements.

The lesser known Democratic candidates still have their chance to pick up support, as the poll found almost 6 in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they see the field as “wide open” and may switch their support before the end of the campaigning process. Just 37 percent said they have one or two candidates they’d rather see win.

The majority of Democrats, 56 percent, agree that the Democratic Party should nominate someone who can defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. Only 35 percent of those polled said the party should nominate a candidate that falls in line with their own values.

In that regard, 51 percent of Democrats said Biden had a better chance of winning the 2020 presidential race rather than another candidate. When asked the same about Sanders, only 36 percent said he had a better chance than other Democratic hopefuls.

Enthusiasm for the 2020 election among Democrats remains high following the blue wave election wins for the 2018 midterms. Four in 10 polled said they are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in the election, the highest level recorded since pollsters began asking the question in 2004.

The poll was conducted March 14-17 among 1,003 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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