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California Democrats like Harris, but not all are behind her 2020 presidential run

California Sen. Kamala Harris enjoys a net positive rating among her home state voters, a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reveals.

But a year out from California’s primary vote, the poll also shows that the former state attorney general and Democratic presidential candidate has work to do to lock up the 2020 primary electorate in the state. Many say they still don’t know enough about her to form an opinion.

Among registered voters in California, 46 percent told PPIC they approved of the job Harris is doing as senator, while 36 percent disapprove and 18 percent said they didn’t know. That figure rises to 71 percent among Democrats, with 16 percent disapproving and 13 percent unsure. The poll was conducted March 10 to 19, two months after Harris jumped in the presidential race.

Harris is particularly popular among women, African Americans and college graduates in California, with a majority of each demographic approving. But she fares less well amongst another critical demographic — Latinos — despite a concerted effort to woo that bloc of Californians with her stands on immigration and pushback against Trump administration border policies.

According to the PPIC poll, a majority of Latinos either weren’t familiar with Harris (30 percent) or disapproved over her (26 percent). Another 43 percent approved of her performance as senator.

A majority of registered voters also did not support Harris’ run for president, including a significant chunk of Democrats — 35 percent said she shouldn’t run and 12 percent were unsure.

California Democrats will play a major role in selecting the party’s next presidential nominee, thanks to the state’s decision to move up its primary date to March 3. Harris starts with a significant advantage over the crowded field of Democrats, thanks to her relationships with influential groups and local leaders and her name identification in the state. On Thursday, Harris nabbed the endorsement of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, her presidential campaign announced.

However, the PPIC poll is likely to encourage other Democrats to campaign in California, as well, particularly because the state will dole out its primary delegates proportionally, based on congressional district. Harris, an Oakland native and former San Francisco district attorney, is likely to perform particularly well in the Bay Area as well as in Los Angeles, where she owns a home. But there are plenty of delegates to vie for there, as well as in the Central Valley and other regions of the state.

Harris, herself, is headed to Sacramento on Monday, where she will be the keynote speaker at the California Labor Federation and State Building and Construction Trades Council Legislative Conference Dinner and also attend a fundraiser hosted by local developer Angelo Tsakopoulos.

On Saturday, Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker will be in Los Angeles for a dinner hosted by the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for LGBT rights. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard will also be in Los Angeles on Saturday for a meet and greet with voters, while South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds an event in San Francisco Thursday.

This story was updated to reflect that both Sens. Harris and Booker will be attending the Human Rights Campaign dinner in Los Angeles.

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