Biden and Warren in Dead Heat Among California Democrats

(CN) – Many likely California voters in a statewide poll published Monday say their top qualification for a 2020 Democratic candidate choice is simple: can they beat President Donald Trump at the polls?

The front-runners among likely Democratic primary voters in the Golden State have not changed much over the last few months according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), which found former Vice President Joe Biden leads their November report released on Monday at 24%. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren follows with 23% support and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is at 17%.

Trailing the pack is California Senator Kamala Harris with 8% in her home state, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 7% and entrepreneur Andrew Yang at 5%. The results largely mirror PPIC’s September report which saw Warren lead with 23%, Biden at 22% and Sanders at 21%. The margin of error is slightly over 3%.

John Meyer, professor and chair with the department of politics at Humboldt State University, said as Biden falters other candidates who are perceived to be moderates will rise in the poll.

“But if Harris can’t win in her home state, then the question becomes what can she do?” Meyer said in an interview.

Broken down, Warren and Sanders lead among 18 to 44-year-old voters which Meyers says may not be the exact same demographic but have considerable overlap.

The majority of those polled (55%) agree whoever the Democratic candidate ends up on the November 2020 ballot must be able beat Trump. Broken down, that preference is higher among likely Democratic voters aged 45 and older, while 36% of likely voters said they will cast their vote based on the issues. That preference was higher among 18 to 44-year-old likely voters.

California voters will join 14 other states when they head to the polls on March 3 to cast their vote in the 2020 primaries, earlier than in previous years. Super Tuesday meant little to California voters in the past but now candidates will be seeking to court voters after New Hampshire and Iowa primary dates.

PPIC says the remaining candidates in their study did not generate more than 1%. Meanwhile, 9% of those polled said they don’t know which candidate they would choose.

That’s no surprise to Sacramento State University political science professor Kimberly Nalder, who said most California voters have not tuned in with the 2020 presidential candidates just yet.

“Most regular voters are not going to ramp up their attention so far down the list,” Nalder said in an interview. “We generally start to see candidates drop out after Iowa and New Hampshire. Even those candidates in fifth, sixth or seventh place wait, because those states can surprise us.”

Iowa’s primary is Feb. 3 and New Hampshire follows on Feb. 11. In the Hawkeye State, Buttigieg leads among Iowa voters according to a Monmouth University Poll released this month.

The PPIC report goes on to say voters are most interested to hear candidates discuss health care (21%), the environment (14%), the economy (13%) and immigration (12%).

Jumping topics, Californian’s appetite for impeachment is healthy. Most adults (57%) and likely voters (53%) think Trump should be impeached and removed from office. Broken down, 83% of Democrats, 51% of independent voters and 11% of Republicans favor impeachment and removal.

But just 50% of adults and 48% of likely voters say they approve of how Democrats in Congress are handling the inquiry, and 44% of adults and 50% of likely voters disapprove. Those figures also fall along party lines, with 76% Democrats more likely to approve than independents at 41% or Republicans at 12%.

PPIC president Mark Baldassare said, “Majorities of Californians favor the president’s impeachment and removal from office, while they have mixed views on how Democrats in Congress are handling the impeachment inquiry.”

The PPIC poll also found 58% of all adults and 63% of likely voters are very concerned about the presence of homeless people in their local community.

About six in 10 think more homeless people have appeared in the last year, particularly those from Los Angeles (63%), San Francisco Bay Area (59%), the Inland Empire (58%), the Central Valley (55%) and in Orange/San Diego counties (49%). An overwhelming majority (76% all adults, 70% likely voters) say they support a proposed “right to shelter” legal policy that would require local governments to construct enough shelter beds.

The poll also gauged California Governor Gavin Newsom’s handling of wildfires and power shutoffs, with 46% adults and 42% of likely voters approving (39% adults, 46% likely voters disapprove). Newsom’s overall approval rating is 48% among adults and likely voters.

Asked about how their utility companies are handling power shutoffs to prevent wildfires, just 19% adults and 16% likely voters said they had a great deal of confidence in that process.

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