PPIC Logo Independent, objective, nonpartisan research
Press Release · January 13, 2020

Sanders, Biden, and Warren Lead in California’s Democratic Presidential Primary

Note: The findings below are from PPIC’s latest statewide survey. The full survey report will be released on Wednesday, January 15, and will be available on the PPIC Statewide Survey page.

SAN FRANCISCO, January 13, 2020—Less than two months before California’s presidential primary, a new PPIC statewide survey shows that the Democratic primary remains a three-way race between Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren. Sanders is the choice of 27 percent of Democratic primary likely voters, while 24 percent favor Biden and 23 percent favor Warren. They are followed by Pete Buttigieg (6%), Amy Klobuchar (4%), and Andrew Yang (3%), while 7 percent don’t know. (Note: Only candidates who had qualified for any upcoming debate were included in the survey questionnaire. Survey respondents who indicated Yang as their choice volunteered their answer.)

This latest PPIC survey shows Sanders up by 10 percentage points since the November survey (27% vs. 17%), while Biden’s and Warren’s numbers are identical to two months ago.

Candidate preference varies by age group. Among younger voters (age 18–44), Sanders (45%) has much more support than Warren (25%) and Biden (12%), while voters age 45 and older favor Biden (32%) over Warren (22%) and Sanders (15%).

Asked who they think has the best chance of defeating Donald Trump, 46 percent of Democratic primary likely voters say Biden, far more than say Sanders (25%) or Warren (10%). Among younger voters, 39 percent say Sanders has the best chance of beating Trump (31% Biden, 11% Warren). Among older voters, 56 percent say Biden (16% Sanders, 9% Warren).

“The Democratic presidential primary remains a close contest between Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “Biden is seen as the candidate with the best chance of defeating Trump, while Sanders has strong support among younger voters.”

About the survey

The Californians and Their Government survey is supported with funding from the Arjay and Frances F. Miller Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, and the PPIC Donor Circle.

The findings presented above are based on responses from 530 Democratic primary likely voters (Democrats and independent voters who say they will vote in the Democratic primary); the sampling error is ±6.5 percent. Interviewing took place on weekend days and weekday nights from January 3–12, 2020. For the full methodology, see Crosstabs, Time Trends and Methodology.

Mark Baldassare is president and CEO of PPIC, where he holds the Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Public Policy. He is founder of the PPIC Statewide Survey, which he has directed since 1998.

The Public Policy Institute of California is dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research. We are a public charity. We do not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor do we endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office. Research publications reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of our funders or of the staff, officers, advisory councils, or board of directors of the Public Policy Institute of California.