SoCal Key to Democratic Nomination?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

By moving its primary to March 3, California could become a major player in determining the Democratic presidential nominee. At least, California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris hopes so. Other Democratic candidates wishing to derail Harris’s plans should concentrate their efforts in Southern California.

Harris’s campaign is counting on her position as California’s Favorite Daughter to roll up a ton of delegates in the early primary making her the front-runner and perhaps the inevitable nominee. But that will depend how she fares in Southern California.

The reason for the focus on Southern California is reflected in the recent Quinnipiac University poll conducted in California.

One headline that came out of the poll was that Joe Biden (60%) was favored slightly over Kamala Harris (58%) as candidates Democratic voters were excited about. However, a second highlighted result was that Californians were evenly split on whether Harris would make a good president, 40% yes, 38% no.

A breakdown of the question if Harris would make a good president shows a divided state. While the Bay Area respondents agreed Harris would make a good president by 59% to 29%, in Los Angeles County the idea of a Harris presidency was much closer, 40% to 30%. And in the remainder of Southern California Harris had negative support on whether she would make a good president, 32% yes, 44% no.

Harris strength in the Bay Area is no surprise for she hails from there and is well known. On that score, Harris got a break when Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti chose not to run for president. His name recognition would have been enough to score heavily in the LA County and surrounding areas.

Since the California Democrats deliver delegates to their national convention depending on how candidates fair within congressional districts, more opportunity should reside with non-California candidates in the Central Valley and the Southland where Harris is not as well known.

You can already see candidates focusing on Southern California with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s California kick-off rally in the SoCal city of Glendale Monday. We can expect other Democratic presidential candidates to spend more time in the Southland in hopes of corralling delegates.

It will take a big effort from out-of-state candidates to overcome Harris’s advantages. Not only has she won three statewide races in California, but also the state’s media has taken a natural special interest in her candidacy with many stories about Harris and her run for office.

That interest can be subtle but telling. One example, on yesterday’s Los Angeles Times front page a story ran on Democratic presidential candidates visiting New Hampshire over the President’s Day weekend. Photographs of five of the candidates campaigning accompanied the story but only Kamala Harris’s picture was on the front page with the story’s lede. Photos of Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Amy Klobuchar and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard all ran in the inside pages.

Yes, a prominent picture of Elizabeth Warren ran on the top of the front page above the Harris photo but that was because of her Glendale visit mentioned above.

And, that’s the point for non-California candidates. If they hope to prevent Harris from steamrolling a huge lead in delegates with her California home field advantage, they will concentrate on Southern California.

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