According to a recent UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, Californians have little desire for a replay of the 2020 presidential contest, with large majorities of state voters hope neither President Biden nor former President Trump run again in two years.
The Times and the poll’s co-sponsor showed that about 6 in 10 respondents are opposed to Biden running for re-election in 2024, which is a startling lack of support in a state where Democrats have a clear majority and he won with ease. More than 70% of Americans would be against another Trump campaign, making it even less popular.
Even in her home state of California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont are seen as the voters’ top choices for president should Biden decide not to run, Vice President Kamala Harris, who is widely regarded as Biden’s preferred successor to lead the party, finds it difficult to gain support. However, no one stands out as the clear favorite to win the Democratic nomination in this preliminary assessment of potential 2024 challengers.
According to Eric Schickler, co-director of the Institute of Governmental Studies, “while many California Democrats are not convinced that Biden should run again, the absence of a clear Democratic alternative may afford [him] more space in avoiding a serious primary challenge should he decide to seek reelection.”
The results come at a time when Democrats are speaking out more and more about their concerns regarding the upcoming presidential campaign.
Biden, 79, has regularly declared his intention to run for president, yet he is already the oldest president in history. Republicans routinely bring up his age and question his suitability for the position. He will be 82 years old on January 20, 2025.
The age factor must be lurking in the minds of many voters, according to Mark DiCamillo, one of the institute’s co-directors.
Only 3 out of 10 California respondents in the poll indicated they would support another Biden run, while 61% said they would not, which is almost exactly the same percentage of votes he received in the state in 2020. Nearly half of those who supported him two years ago in the poll said they opposed him running again. Additionally, nearly 30% of respondents who were satisfied with Biden’s performance in his present role stated they would not support his candidacy in 2024.
Nor is there a strong demand in California for Harris, 57, the state’s former U.S. senator, to accept the Democratic Party’s mantle. Even in her native state, the vice president’s approval ratings have dipped.
Her backers believe that by taking the lead in the administration’s attempts to protect abortion rights, Harris will be able to emerge from the polling rut. However, in a list of potential candidates for the Democratic nomination if Biden is not on the ballot in two years, voters eligible to participate in the Democratic presidential primary in California who are registered as Democrats or without a party preference ranked Harris third; 1 in 10 had Harris as their top choice.
DiCamillo remarked, “You’d think the incumbent vice president would be a natural choice [to Biden],” particularly one from our own state. That isn’t showing up in this poll.
Sanders, the 80-year-old two-time presidential candidate who won the state’s Democratic primary in 2020, and fellow Californian Newsom, 54, are ahead of Harris in the polls. 13% of respondents chose Newsom and Sanders as their top choices.
When the second-choice candidates of the respondents are taken into account, Newsom gains ground. Sanders and Harris were mentioned as being in the top two choices by 18% of Democratic and non-partisan voters in California, while 25% named Newsom as their first or second choice.
As the voters’ top or second choice in the San Francisco Bay Area, where both Newsom and Harris began their political careers, Newsom leads Harris by 8 points.
Newsom has stated time and time again that he has no intention of running for president in 2024. Even so, as long as he puts himself in the public eye, there is plenty of talk that he may have presidential aspirations. He publishes comments on Trump’s conservative social media network, mocks red state governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas with television and newspaper commercials, and criticizes his own party for its subdued reaction to the repeal of abortion rights.
DiCamillo said, “He’s filling a void. It demonstrates that there is room for yet another voice to emerge within the Democratic Party.
Trump, 76, continues to be the clear choice among Republicans in the state even though only 25 percent of respondents in California who took part in the poll said they want to see him run again in two years. Compared to 7% of Democrats and 21% of voters who do not identify with a party, two-thirds of GOP registered voters indicated they support another Trump candidacy.
However, there is a more definite consensus for a different GOP candidate than there is on the Democratic side. Even if Trump ran, DeSantis, 43, would be the top option for 27% of the registered Republicans in California surveyed. With Trump off the ballot, DeSantis receives 53% of the vote. In a hypothetical primary without Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence finished in second place with just 9% of the vote.
The positions of prospective candidates on either party are likely to change given the amount of time that has passed before the 2024 election. The main lesson, according to DiCamillo, is that Californians vehemently oppose repeating the events of 2020.
“When asked about Biden, 41% strongly disagree with his candidacy. It’s 65% when you go to Trump,” DiCamillo remarked. “An unusually big number of voters are fiercely opposing or disapproving of his candidacy,”
California voters have a split opinion on Biden overall, with 48% of them approving and 48% of them disapproving. The number, which remained low for a Democratic president in firmly blue California in the Institute of Governmental Studies polls between February and April, outperforms Biden’s national approval ratings, which according to the average of recent polls from FiveThirtyEight hover around 40%.
In the most recent Berkeley Institute study, over three-quarters of Democrats gave Biden high marks, but 51% of people with no preference for a party think less favorably of him as president. Republicans in California are virtually unanimously negative toward Biden, with 92% of them giving him a poor rating.
Between August 9 and 15, 9,254 registered California voters were surveyed by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies. Both English and Spanish were used to run the poll online. The estimated margin of error for the entire sample is 2 percentage points. The estimated sample error is plus or minus 2.5 points for Democratic primary voters and plus or minus 3 points for Republican primary voters.
This article first appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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