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Biden headed for historic margin in California, poll shows

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event July 14 in Wilmington, Del.
Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Trump 65% to 29% in California, the latest UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies poll indicates.
(Associated Press)

With one week to go before the 2020 campaign ends, California remains on track to hand former Vice President Joe Biden a victory by the largest margin for a Democratic presidential candidate in state history, the final UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies poll indicates.

Biden leads President Trump 65%-29%, the poll finds. That 36-point margin would top the 30-point advantage that Hillary Clinton amassed against Trump in 2016, the previous record for a Democrat. The only larger victory in state history came exactly a century ago, in 1920, when Warren G. Harding, the Republican, beat James Cox, the Democratic candidate, by 42 points.

The likely outcome in California has never been in much doubt. The former vice president consistently has led Trump by huge margins in statewide polls for the past two years. The Republican ticket has never pretended to contest the race in the state, despite California’s large trove of 55 electoral votes, visiting for fundraising but not much else.

A Republican hasn’t carried California in a presidential contest since George H.W. Bush in 1988, and the state hasn’t been competitive in more than a generation.

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Biden leads among Californians of all races and regions of the state, with his strongest support coming from Los Angeles County (73%) and the Bay Area (77%) and among voters younger than 30 (75%), Black voters (84%), Latinos (72%) and Asian and Pacific Islanders (71%).

Among white voters, Biden leads 61%-34%, the poll finds. White voters who did not graduate from college — Trump’s core group of supporters nationally — divide closely in California, with the president holding a 50%-45% edge. Biden has a huge advantage among college-educated white voters, 74%-21%. The one group of Californians among whom Trump has a clear lead are white, evangelical Christians, who favor him by 69%-22%.

As is true elsewhere in the country, Biden has united Democrats behind him, winning 95% of the party’s voters, while Trump has failed to hold support of a small, but significant, slice of Republicans. Only 2% of self-identified Democrats say they plan to vote for Trump, but 8% of self-identified Republicans say they plan to vote for Biden.

Since Sen. Kamala Harris launched a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, the problems of the country she wants to help lead have inched closer to her Brentwood doorstep.

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Biden’s backing also extends broadly through the ideological range, with 91% of those who identify as “very liberal” backing him, along with 96% of those who call themselves “somewhat liberal,” 69% of moderates and 17% of those who label themselves “somewhat conservative.” Trump gets 91% of those who call themselves “very conservative” — a relatively small slice of voters in California.

The Berkeley IGS poll also asked voters about the vice presidential candidates. The vast majority of voters in both parties see Vice President Mike Pence as a conservative. Voters have a more divided view of Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate. Republicans overwhelmingly see her as liberal. Democrats are more divided: One-third of Biden voters call Harris either moderate (26%) or conservative (7%).

The Berkeley IGS poll, supervised by pollster Mark DiCamillo, was administered online in English and Spanish from Oct. 16-21 among 6,686 registered voters, 5,352 of whom are considered likely to vote in the November election. The margin of error for the full sample is estimated at roughly 2 percentage points in either direction. Further details on the poll questions and data can be found at the Berkeley IGS website.


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