OAKLAND — On the heels of a high-profile White House campaign launch that cemented Kamala Harris‘ position as a top-tier 2020 contender, a new poll shows voters in her home state are divided on whether she would make a good president.
Forty percent of voters in overwhelmingly Democratic California say the first-term senator would make a good president, and 38 percent say she would not, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
California Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters are just as pumped up about former VP Joe Biden running for president as Harris — with 60 percent saying that they’d be excited about a Biden 2020 run, compared to 58 percent saying they’d excited by a Harris presidential run, the poll showed.
In Harris’ home state, “the total pool of voters is noticeably ambivalent about whether she has what it takes to be a good president,’’ says Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, which launched its first major poll of California voters this week.
In a state where an early March 2020 primary represents a mother lode of Democratic delegates, the poll showed "it’s former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris neck and neck, and everyone else an afterthought in the very early Democratic presidential race,” said Malloy.
Biden has not yet announced his intentions for 2020.
While Biden, who is benefiting from his broad name recognition, and Harris are both running far ahead of the pack of other Democratic president candidates on the excitement meter in California, 44 percent of Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters say they’d be excited about a run by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). And 40 percent expressed excitement over a potential run by former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), while just 21 percent were excited about a campaign by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the poll showed.
The poll also revealed a gender gap regarding voters’ confidence in Harris as the next president: California women voters, by a 48 percent to 31 percent margin, believe she would be a good commander in chief — compared to men, who say she would not, by a 45-32 margin.
Malloy notes that Harris’ numbers have plenty of time to shift. Her presidential campaign launch occurred only last week, and many voters in California — and nationwide — are still being introduced to Harris, who served as California’s former attorney general before her election to the Senate in 2016.
The poll contained some good news for Harris: The state’s junior senator enjoys a 53-32 percent approval rating among all voters.
But California voters disapprove of the job President Donald Trump is doing by a more than 3-1 margin — 67 percent disapprove compared to just 28 percent who approve. Republicans, however, approve of Trump’s job performance by 71–22 percent — the only party, gender, racial, regional or age group to approve , Quinnipiac pollsters said.
California‘s top Democrats also get high marks from voters: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s job approval rating is 55–37; Sen. Dianne Feinstein rates at 51–38; and newly elected Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, in his first month in office, is at 39 percent approve, 28 percent disapprove, with 33 percent undecided.
The poll of 912 California voters taken from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4, with a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points. The sample included 452 Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, with a margin of error of 5.9 percentage points.
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