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

David Lauter, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

Neither has much support — 2% and 3%, respectively — but if that were mirrored in closely divided states, it could be enough to matter. In 2016, Stein's vote was larger than Trump's margin in three swing states, causing Democrats to charge that she cost Hillary Clinton the election. How many of Stein's voters might have voted for Clinton that year is unknown, but the risk of third-party candidates drawing support away from Biden has haunted Democrats.

A third independent candidate, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., had 11% support in the poll, but his voters were almost evenly split between Trump and Biden as their second choice.

Those candidates, especially West and Stein, may have more impact in California than elsewhere in the country because of the state's liberal electorate, noted Mark DiCamillo, the director of the Berkeley IGS poll.

The impact of those candidates could fade by November — that typically happens. They may not even make the ballot in some swing states. Each state sets its own rules for ballot access — some, including California, are easy, others are very difficult, and the deadline remains months away.

But the large number of voters who currently say they would vote for a third-party candidate is a "measure of the disaffection" with Biden, DiCamillo said.

Latino and young voters dismayed


Another central problem for Biden is the alienation of some key Democratic constituencies.

Just after he was inaugurated, almost two-thirds of California voters had a favorable view of Biden. Today, fewer than half, 45%, still do, the poll found.

Among Democrats, 26% now have an unfavorable view of the president, up from just 7% when he took office.

That drop isn't only — or even primarily — coming from voters on the left angered by Biden's support of Israel in the current Gaza war. Biden's support has dropped 24 points among voters who identify themselves as moderates, 15 points among those who call themselves somewhat liberal and 16 points among the strongly liberal.


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