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Field Poll: Hillary down, Bernie up

The latest statewide Field Poll finds that fewer than half of likely voters in California’s June 2016 Democratic presidential primary (47%) are now intending to support former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton for President, a decline of nineteen points since May. Over this same period Democratic voter support for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has increased nearly four-fold from 9% to 35%.

The poll also shows that fewer Democrats in this state would be enthusiastic were Clinton to become the party’s nominee in the fall. Whereas in May nearly half of the state’s Democrats (46%) said they would be enthusiastic if Clinton were to become their party’s presidential standard-bearer next year, now just 37% feel this way.

Meanwhile, support for Sanders has increased nearly four-fold over the past five months, from 9% to 35%.

By a 63% to 22% margin California’s Democratic primary voters think it would be a good thing for their party if Vice President Joe Biden were to become a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Despite this, when Biden’s name is added to the list of possible Democratic candidates, just 15% of likely voters say they would back him. Biden’s presence in the race, however, does change the dynamics of the contest somewhat, by narrowing Clinton’s preference lead over Sanders in the state from twelve points to nine points – 40% to 31%.

These are the findings from the latest statewide Field Poll conducted by telephone in English and Spanish among this state’s likely Democratic primary voters.

–Earlier this year Clinton was the overwhelming choice of between two-thirds and three-quarters of California Democrats. Now, fewer than half of likely voters in next June’s Democratic primary (47%) are supporting her candidacy. Meanwhile, support for Sanders has increased nearly four-fold over the past five months, from 9% to 35%.

–The Democratic constituencies most likely to be backing Sanders include strong liberals, voters under age 40 or who have never married, and non-Hispanic whites. Sanders does less well against Clinton among likely voters in the Central Valley, Latinos and Democratic primary voters who do not identify themselves as strongly liberal in politics.

–About two in three likely voters (63%) think it would be a good thing for the Democratic Party if Biden were to become a candidate in the presidential election. Just 22% feel this would be bad for the party, while 16% have no opinion.

–Views about this are broad-based and include 65% of Democratic primary voters now supporting Clinton and 68% of those backing Sanders.

–Despite the widely held view among the state’s Democratic primary voters that Biden’s entry into the presidential race would be a good thing, when he is listed as a candidate, the Vice President would begin the race in a distant third, with just 15% of likely voter support. His presence does, however, affect the dynamics of the race somewhat by narrowing Clinton’s lead over Sanders from twelve points to nine points – 40% to 31%.

–The proportion of likely voters in the state’s June 2016 Democratic primary who say they would be enthusiastic were Clinton to become their party’s presidential nominee has declined. At present, 37% say they’d be enthusiastic about Clinton as their party’s standard bearer, down from 46% who felt this way in May. Another 42% of Democratic voters in the current poll say they would be satisfied should Clinton win the nomination, while 26% would be dissatisfied or upset.

Ed’s Note: The survey was conducted Sept. 17-Oct. 4 among 1,002 registered voters in California, of whom 391 are consider likely to vote in next year’s June Democratic presidential primary election. The maximum sampling error for results from the Democratic primary voter sample in this report is plus-or-minus 5 percentage points. 


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