Democratic presidential candidates began the year by flocking to California to raise money and campaign. The state has the most delegates, making it an important battleground for those seeking the party’s nomination.
Yet visits have been few and far between lately, as campaigns focus more of their attention on four earlier voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
A Sacramento Bee analysis shows a total of 308 visits to the Golden State through the end of October, including at least one appearance from 24 of the 26 Democrats who announced their presidential bid.
Here’s an interactive map of all the candidate visits to the state:
Ignoring the Central Valley
When they do come to California, the existing field of 17 candidates have largely ignored the middle of the state, instead choosing to go to San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Of the 308 total candidate appearance, which include four from President Donald Trump and three from former possible contender Howard Schultz, 109 have been held in San Francisco and 85 have been held in Los Angeles.
“There is a bias towards going to the larger media markets, which also have large universes of potential donors,” said Bill Carrick, a top Democratic strategist in California. “When you’re running a campaign, it’s very important to go to communities all over the state. The swing areas are Riverside, San Bernardino, the Central Valley, the Central Coast and Sacramento.”
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is one of few candidates who has visited the Central Valley. He held the highest-profile event in Fresno when he participated in a televised town hall in June. He’s also made more appearances in California than any other candidate with 49. California Sen. Kamala Harris, who has yet to visit the middle of the state, made 32 appearances through the end of October.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is the only other active candidate who has visited the Central Valley this year, though Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was scheduled to visit CSU Bakersfield and Fresno City College before he suffered a heart attack that forced him to cancel the trip. Sanders has held two fundraisers and 21 events.
Former Vice President Joe Biden participated in 21 fundraisers and six events in the state, while Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren appeared at 10 events.
Visits by candidate
If California’s March 3, 2020 primary election were held today, Warren, Biden, Sanders, Harris and Buttigieg would be the likeliest candidates to pick up delegates. Regardless, they are not the only ones competing for attention in the Golden State.
As of Nov. 1, here’s how many fundraisers and events the remaining 17 candidates have held:
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang has frequently traveled to San Francisco. In March, he held his first rally of more than 1,000 attendees. On the “California Nation” podcast, he discussed his plan to give all American adults $1,000 a month. Yang’s proposal has since received sharp criticism from Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, who helped launch a universal basic income pilot program in his city that now gives 125 people $500 a month with no strings attached. Tubbs worries Yang would kick people off of food stamps and other government assistance programs.
Yang has held 10 events and three fundraisers in California since he declared his bid for president in 2017. His 13 appearances match those of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who plans to win the state with a message that is “practical but aspirational.”
After speaking at the DNC summer meeting in San Francisco in August, Klobuchar made a podcast appearance with The Bee in which she discussed her personal ties to California and explained why gun violence is a top priority of hers.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has held eight events and seven fundraisers in California. Castro has made 21 appearances in the state, while Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has participated in 14 California events.
The remaining six candidates who did not qualify for the October Democratic presidential debate have visited California at least once, with spiritual leader Marianne Williamson making the most appearances at 16.