Senator Kamala Harris No Longer Leads in California Polls

Senator Kamala Harris’ (D-Calif.) 2020 presidential campaign is not faring too well. In the latest sign that her campaign for the Democratic nomination may be doomed, a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows Harris has dipped from the frontrunner position in her home state.

The latest poll, conducted in mid- to late September, revealed Harris dropped from 19 percent in July to 8 percent. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) jumped ahead to first place, earning 23 percent of the support from survey respondents. She was followed by former Vice President Joe Biden with 22 percent and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with 21 percent.

All three candidates saw significant jumps from the July poll, when they trailed Harris. According to CNN, Warren was at 15 percent, Sanders was at 12 percent, and Biden was at 11 percent.

Harris experienced a fundraising and polling bump following her successful performance at the first Democratic debate in Miami, Florida. However, the California Democrat has been unable to keep that momentum going.

“The race is very close now between three candidates in California, and there’s no distance between those three,” said Mark Baldassare, president of the PPIC, according to The Sacramento Bee. “There’s a second tier, and, yes, that’s where our California senator is in right now.”

In his statement, Baldassare noted that Democratic-leaning voters appear to be open to switching allegiances at the early stage of the presidential primary season. The poll revealed that 53 percent of California voters said they would consider another candidate, while 44 percent said they were firmly committed to supporting the person they named during the survey.

Baldassare told CNN that the survey’s results also show that Harris does not have an advantage in the state, despite serving as the state’s attorney general and as a junior US senator.

“These numbers reflect what’s going on in the national scene, but they also reflect that there is not a home state advantage [for Harris]. There’s not an advantage from the fact that she’s run in statewide races here in 2010, 2014, and 2016,” the institute’s president said.

He continued: “Senator Harris has to prove to [California] voters just like any other Democratic presidential candidate — ‘What are you going to do for me?’ and ‘Where do you stand on the issues?’ and ‘Are you the person who is most likely to defeat Donald Trump?’ The name identification associated with being the state’s senator and somebody who’s been on the ballot — it’s not an advantage right now.”

The University of California, Berkeley released a poll last month that found 43 percent of likely primary voters in California were considering choosing Harris. Meanwhile, 45 percent said they were considering Sanders, 46 percent for Biden, and a whopping 68 percent for Warren.

Harris’ campaign is hoping to change that. Maya Humes, communications director for Harris’ campaign in California, told The Sacramento Bee that the senator is expanding her outreach in the state in a bid to appeal to more voters. The Harris campaign opened its first California office in Oakland on September 29.

“As our operation expands, our plan is to work with our supporters to ensure that Californians up and down the state know Kamala’s plans to tackle the issues that keep them up at night,” Humes told the newspaper.

California voters named homelessness, jobs, and the economy as the leading three issues facing the state today. Respondents also named housing costs and availability, immigration and illegal immigration, and the environment as other top issues. California will hold its primary on March 3, 2020.

The latest California numbers arrived as Harris’ campaign restructures its leadership, CNN reported. Following a couple of missteps, including confusion over her position on “Medicare for All” and dropping poll numbers, Harris shifted her Senate chief of staff, Rohini Kosoglu, and senior adviser, Laphonza Butler, into top positions on her campaign team.

Harris is also experiencing single digit numbers in national polls, an overview by RealClearPolitics shows. A recently released poll by The Economist/YouGov placed the senator in fifth place, with 5 percent, behind Warren (28 percent), Biden (22 percent), Sanders (13 percent), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (7 percent).

Overall, Harris seems to be entrenched in fifth place, only slightly ahead of entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.

PPIC polled 1,031 likely voters, with a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points for the 692 people who chose to identify their preference for the Democratic nomination.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.