Two trends are emerging in California’s Democratic presidential primary, with voting set to begin in just four months: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is surging, and home-state Sen. Kamala Harris is dropping back.
Two of the state’s most respected polls — a brand-new Public Policy Institute of California survey released Wednesday night and a UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies report out last week — show Harris dropping to fourth place at just 8 percent. Both polls showed her falling sharply from their previous surveys over the summer.
Warren, meanwhile, tops the Democratic field, along with former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. That reflects significant gains from her showings in the two pollsters’ previous surveys and mirrors her rise in national polls.
At the California Democratic Party convention this past spring, Inyo County delegate Joe Griego was still deciding between Warren and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Now, he says, he’s “definitely leaning more toward Warren.”
Griego, a 54-year-old who’s the chief technology officer for a neighboring county’s office of education, says he’s impressed by Warren’s organization, messaging and progressive vision, and thinks she’ll be “hard to beat.”
“She seems to be a solid candidate. She articulates a progressive vision that resonates with me,” he said Wednesday. “If the primary (were) held today, she’d get my vote.”
Harris, on the other hand, has struggled to articulate her vision, say Griego and San Luis Obispo County state party delegate Rosemary Wrenn.
“I think the Elizabeth Warren campaign has figured out how to really connect with people in a way some of the other candidates haven’t been able to do so yet,” she says.
Wrenn, a 55-year-old part-time college lecturer and doctorate student, said back at the convention that she couldn’t make up her mind between Warren and Sanders. Four months later, she’s still undecided.
“I’m very much torn, because they both have such strong qualities that right now, I would be pleased to see either one of them in that role, on the top of that ticket,” she said Wednesday. “I’m happy to see the more progressive ideals getting the attention that I think they really deserve.”
Voting by mail in California’s March 3 primary starts four months from Thursday. That’s exactly one month before Election Day and the day of the nation’s first nominating contest, the Iowa caucuses.