PPIC CA Poll Shows Tight Race for Popular Vote Among Democrats, but Who is Going to Get the Delegates?

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

How many delegates will the Democratic presidential candidates win in California’s March primary?  It’s difficult to tell with early polling because the Democrats have a complex formula for securing delegates to their national convention and statewide poll numbers are more general in nature.

The Public Policy Institute of California’s latest poll shows a tight race among a number of presidential candidates to secure the vote of Democratic voters in March. California Senator Kamala Harris leads statewide with 19%, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is at 15%, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders 12% and former Vice President Joe Biden at 11%, while 25% haven’t decided.

But since the Democrats award delegates in California chiefly by votes in Congressional Districts, a more precise reading of the polls in the Congressional Districts would tell how each candidate is doing in the quest for convention delegates.

PPIC doesn’t cut its poll so fine as to see how the candidates are performing within the state’s Congressional Districts. However, the poll does have breakdowns of the poll numbers in the state’s regions, which could serve as a broad indicator on how candidates are doing in securing those valuable delegates.

In the Central Valley, Harris leads Warren 21% to 19%. There is a notable drop off after the two senators to Sanders (10%) and Biden (6%). Obviously, the former Vice President has work to do in the Valley.

The Bay Area duplicates the situation in the Valley with Harris and Warren enjoying commanding leads at 24% and 22% respectively. Biden does a little better than Sanders with 12% to Sanders 11%.

In delegate rich Los Angeles the contest between the four leading contestants could be considered a dead heat when the poll’s margin of error is considered. Harris leads by one point over Sanders 14% to 13% while both Warren and Biden have 11%. 

Breaking clear of the pack in Los Angeles could go a long way for one of the candidates to get California delegates on the road to nomination. But it really will be a battle.

The PPIC poll found that in the other Southern California counties, it’s all about Kamala Harris. She enjoys her strongest regional support with 27%. The other three leading candidates are bunched together with Warren standing at 13% and Sanders and Biden at 12%.

It’s not clear how the candidates would divide the delegates—and there is a lot more campaigning to go before March—but reading this poll’s regional breakdown and making broad assumptions, it looks like Sen. Harris could secure a larger percentage of delegates, probably greater than her now narrow percentage lead over the other candidates, would indicate.

The votes within Congressional Districts will produce 272 delegates out of the 495 California will send to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Other delegates are divvied up according to a detailed formula described here at the California Democratic Party website.

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