Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont has surged past his 2020 Democratic presidential rivals in California with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts close behind, according to polling released this week.
Mr. Sanders was the top choice of 24% of likely Democratic primary voters in the all-important state, followed by Ms. Warren at 22%, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden at 14%, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, at 12%, according to the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times.
In September, Ms. Warren had been in the lead at 29%, followed by Mr. Biden at 20%, Mr. Sanders at 19%, Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California at 8%, and Mr. Buttigieg at 6%.
“The race is really unusually fluid,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS poll.
“Voters are struggling and not sticking with their candidates,” he said. “They are moving around from candidate to candidate.”
Ms. Harris was at 7% in the new poll, which was conducted before she dropped out of the race on Tuesday.
The survey found that Ms. Warren and Mr. Biden would stand to benefit the most if she quit.
With Harris voters reallocated based on their second choice, Mr. Sanders would be in the lead at 25%, followed by Ms. Warren at 24%, Mr. Biden at 17%, and Mr. Buttigieg at 13%.
California is the biggest prize for the Democratic candidates next year with about 500 delegates up for grabs. It’s one of more than a dozen states expected to hold its nominating contest on Super Tuesday in early March.
The of 1,694 likely California Democratic primary voters was taken from Nov. 21-27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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