California poll reveals how third-party candidates could throw 2024 presidential race to Trump

David Lauter, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

In 2020, Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in California by more than 29 points, amassing a statewide margin of more than 5 million votes — the largest in the history of presidential elections.

Three years in office have not been kind to Biden.

Biden will win Tuesday's primary — he has no serious opposition. And barring a sudden turn for the worse in his health, he's not at risk of losing deeply Democratic California in November.

But he'll be lucky to achieve half the margin he ran up last time around, according to the latest Los Angeles Times statewide poll with UC Berkeley's Institute of Government Studies.

The poll of voters in California, the nation's largest Democratic stronghold, highlights the problems the president faces nationwide as he seeks another four years in the White House.

Third-party candidates hurt Biden


One problem is the potential impact of minor-party and independent candidates.

The Berkeley IGS poll shows Biden leading Trump by 18 points statewide in a head-to-head matchup. But that drops to 12 points when independent and minor-party candidates are included.

In swing states, where Biden doesn't have a big Democratic cushion to protect him, the impact of those independent and minor-party candidates could be enough to swing the outcome.

Of the three independent and third-party candidates the poll tested, the Green Party's Jill Stein and Cornel West, who is running as an independent, draw support away from Biden, the poll found. When the poll asked voters their second choice, most West and Stein backers said Biden.


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