Capitol Alert

California Democrats are ‘excited’ about Kamala Harris. But they like Joe Biden, too

California Democrats are enthusiastic about Sen. Kamala Harris’s bid for president, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.

Of Democratic or ‘Democratic-leaning’ voters surveyed, 58 percent said they’d be “excited” if Harris secured the party’s nomination. They said they would be just as happy, however, however, to see a victory by former Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to declare his candidacy. He was slightly ahead, at 60 percent, in a poll with a margin of error of 5.9 percentage points.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont tied for third, with 44 percent expressing excitement. They were closely followed by former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke at 40 percent. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was a distant sixth at 21 percent.

While the results should be taken with a grain of salt since California voters won’t be casting their ballots until March 2020, they offer an early look at the potential frontrunners. The poll shows Harris is a top contender but also suggests there are some areas of concern for her campaign, as a critical part of her pathway to becoming the Democratic nominee runs through her home state.

In a general election test, the state as a whole is divided on whether she’d make a good president.

Just 40 percent of all California voters thought Harris would make a good president, compared to 38 percent who said she wouldn’t. Sixty-eight percent of Democrats said she’d be a good president, while 12 percent disagreed. The margin of error among all voters was 4.1 percentage points.

“There’s a level of respect for her, but this poll doesn’t say people believe she should be president,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the university’s poll.

“While Sen. Harris gets the nod for generating excitement among California Democrats, the total pool of voters is noticeably ambivalent about whether she has what it takes to be a good president,” he added.

The top issues on Californians’ minds are affordability, housing costs, climate change and health care. Most California Democrats said they’d support replacing the current private health insurance system with a single-payer system in which all residents would get their insurance from one government plan.

“California is a microcosm of so much of America. It has all the major issues that individual states confront,” Malloy said. “California has got everything right now. It’s a big voice, it’s intriguing and it’s exciting.”

Harris’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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