Voters in California would prefer their governor, Gavin Newsom (D), in the 2024 Democratic presidential primary over Vice President Harris, according to a poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies released on Friday.
The poll, which was co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, found that 25 percent of surveyed voters eligible to participate in the state’s Democratic primary consider Newsom their first or second choice if President Biden does not run for reelection. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Harris, who served as a senator from California before becoming vice president, come in second with 18 percent each.
People eligible to vote in the state’s Democratic primary are those who are registered as Democrats or have no official party preference.
Newsom is tied with Sanders for voters’ first-choice preference, at 13 percent each, followed by Harris at 10 percent.
The poll shows that about 6 out of 10 voters surveyed do not want Biden to run for reelection, with 46 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of non-partisans opposing it.
Biden has maintained that he intends to run for reelection, but questions have lingered based on his age and low approval ratings. Several congressional Democrats have distanced themselves from the president ahead of the November midterm elections or refused to say if they would support Biden running again.
Eric Schickler, the co-director of the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, told the Times that the lack of a clear alternative could benefit Biden and give him more ability to avoid a serious primary challenge if he runs for reelection.
“You’d think the sitting vice president would be a natural alternative [to Biden], especially one from our own state,” said Mark DiCamillo, another institute co-director, to the Times. “That’s not coming through in this poll.”
Newsom has denied being interested in running for president in 2024, but his national profile has risen significantly in recent months. He has publicly faced off with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) over Texas’s abortion restrictions and gun laws and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) over legislation targeting LGBTQ rights and abortion.
“He’s filling a void,” DiCamillo said of Newsom. “It shows you that there is room and space for another voice within the Democratic Party to appear.”
The poll was conducted from Aug. 9-15 among 9,254 registered voters. The overall sampling error is 2 percentage points. The survey of Democratic primary voters was conducted among 7,262 participants, and the sampling error is 2.5 points.