The Quinnipiac poll this week showed Kamala Harris taking the lead in the presidential contest among California Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters. Her gain in the polls reflects rising support for her candidacy in Southern California. 

In February, Quinnipiac polled California Democratic voters on which Democratic candidate they were most excited about. Joe Biden topped Harris 60% to 58%. In April Quinnipiac asked California Democrats who they favored to lead the party.  Biden lead Harris 26% to 17%.

Now Harris is out front 23% to 21% (although well within the poll’s margin of error at 5.7%) with most observers agreeing her performance in the first Democratic debate boosted her campaign. 

Looking back at the February poll, Southern California counties were not as enamored with Harris’s candidacy as voters in the Bay Area. 

When asked if Harris would make a good president Bay Area respondents approved 59% to 29%. However, in Los Angeles County, instead of a 30% edge in that question that Harris enjoyed on her home turf around San Francisco, she was only 10% ahead, 40% to 30%. The remainder of Southern California turned thumbs down on Harris as president, 32% yes, 44% no. 

Admittedly, the question asked in February is different than querying voters on which candidate they would prefer to win the nomination. But looking at the Southern California numbers, Harris is certainly competitive with Biden now.

Biden leads Harris 22% to 20% in Los Angeles County. Sen. Elizabeth Warren also scored 20% support in LA. In the other Southern California counties Biden’s lead over Harris was a narrow 3 points, 27% to 24%. 

Clearly, as Democrats in Southern California have focused on the campaign, many have decided to line-up for the hometown candidate, allowing her to top a significant poll for the first time. 

However, things could change again when Democratic voters make their final decision on the California primary ballot in March.

Noteworthy in the Quinnipiac poll that could muffle enthusiasm in the Harris camp is that when Democratic voters were asked who stood the best chance to defeat President Trump, Biden overwhelmingly beat out his rivals. Biden stood at 45%, Sen. Bernie Sanders at 12%, Harris at 11% and Warren at 8%.