Kamala Harris Tops the Field of Democratic Presidential Candidates in California

By: Rebecca Johnson

Kamala Harris (D-CA), Senator from California and 2020 presidential candidate, does not back down from a challenge. Harris, the first South Asian American and the first African American woman from California to hold the office of senator, is also the state’s former attorney general, and the first woman in San Francisco’s history to serve as District Attorney.

Now, Sen. Harris aims to be the first woman to become president of the United States.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, California Democratic voters are leaning towards the idea of President Kamala Harris. After her impressive performance at the first Democratic debates in June, Harris has jumped to the top of the Democratic field of 2020 presidential candidates in her home state for the first time since announcing her candidacy.

In the new survey, Harris draws the support of 23 percent of Democratic-leaning voters, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden with 21 percent of those voters, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) with 18 percent and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) polling at 16 percent.

 “California democrats catch the national wave as native daughter Kamala Harris leaps from promising contender to prominent player, putting her neck and neck with former Vice President Joe Biden,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“But who do California democrats pick as the best candidate to take on President Donald Trump?” Malloy asked. “Hands down, it’s Biden.”

While the new poll shows Biden outpacing the field with votes for “best leader” at 26 percent, Harris closely followed him at 18 percent. Sanders and Warren are still within the margin of error with 17 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

Harris becoming the Democratic presidential nominee excites 68 percent of California democratic voters. Excitement for Warren as the nominee garners 65 percent, Biden gets 58 percent, and Sanders places fourth at 55 percent. 

Malloy said Harris’s debate performance is the reason she is now leading the crowded field of Democratic candidates.

“Rewind it and take a hard look at the debate. Kamala Harris went from a well-known candidate in California to a national figure,” Malloy said. “Elizabeth Warren has been moving along incrementally, but Kamala Harris hit it out of the park in that debate and Joe Biden hit a single. When a local figure does that well in front of the big spotlight on a national stage, it may fortify people’s positive feelings about her.”

Photo by Gage Skidmore
Photo by Gage Skidmore

Malloy said all eyes will be on Harris and Biden during the second presidential debate in Detroit on July 30 and July 31, with 20 candidates set to make their case to voters.

“I think the second debate could make or break Biden,” he said. “Kamala Harris has truly arrived.”

While the poll results come as welcome news to Harris, she knows that to break down another wall and be the first woman president of the United States she will have to remain focused on the issues and voter concerns. Harris has already announced a wide-ranging set of policies, with an emphasis on immigration, fair wages, maternal mortality, and economic support for low-income and middle-class Americans.

California, with its 416 delegates up for grabs, has gained importance to candidates in the 2020 presidential race by moving its primary up to “Super Tuesday” on March 3.

Sen. Warren’s campaign does not weigh in on individual polls. Sen. Harris’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment and Biden’s campaign declined to comment. The survey of 519 democrats had a margin of error of 5.7 percentage points.

Rebecca Johnson is a copywriter, content creator, and website developer. She is a married mother of one who serves as vice-president of a nonprofit board, dabbles in genealogy research, and fosters rescue pets.