Poll: Biden Leads Trump by 39 Points in California; Ahead in Every Region

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris confer on stage outside the Chase Center after Biden delivered his acceptance speech on August 20, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.  (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden prepare to square off in their first debate next week, a new poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies shows Biden leading Trump in California by 39 points, 67% to 28% with just 5% of voters saying they're undecided.

That's even more than the 62% to 32% margin Hillary Clinton beat Trump in California by four years ago.

Biden's lead hasn't changed much since July, before the presidential conventions and Biden's selection of Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate. He currently leads the president in every region of the state, including the more conservative Central Valley where he's ahead with likely voters by 55% to 40% and in the Inland Empire he's winning by 59% to 37%.

Source: UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, September poll (Matthew Green/KQED)

While Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly support their party's nominee, nonpartisan or independent voters also prefer Biden over Trump by a wide margin, 76% to 18%.

Biden is preferred by all racial groups, including white, non-Hispanic voters who support him over Trump by two to one. Latino voters, with whom Biden has struggled in some parts of the nation, choose Biden over the president by 73% to 21% with 6% saying they're undecided.

No matter who they're supporting, likely voters say Trump is the main motivation for their preference: 63% of Trump supporters say they're voting for the president because they like him, while just 15% of Biden's supporters give that as their main reason. Just over half of the former vice president's backers say their primary reason for preferring Biden is that they don't like Trump.

Source: UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, September poll (Matthew Green/KQED)

Likely voters who support the Democratic nominee say the most important issue to them is that Biden will "bring the country together," while large segments of his supporters also cite the economy, the coronavirus, climate change and Supreme Court nominations (the survey was taken before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died) as reasons for choosing Biden.

The top issue for Trump voters by far was the economy, with 67% saying it was important to them followed by 28% who named "policing and criminal justice."

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In a sign of how emotionally charged the election is, 67% of Biden supporters say they’d feel angry — rather than just disappointed — if Trump were to win, while 38% of Trump supporters said they’d feel similarly if Biden were to win

Source: UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, September poll (Matthew Green/KQED)

"The findings indicate the emotional toll that the November election is having on Californians," said Cristina Mora, co-director of the Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS).

"That Biden supporters would be angry if he lost, but more relieved than excited if he won indicates that Democrats are thinking about the election as more than simply about their preferred candidate," she said. "Biden supporters may well be thinking that the future of their democratic institutions is now on the line in this election."

With Kamala Harris on the ballot as Vice President, this is the first time a California Democrat is on a presidential ticket, and 63% percent of Democrats say they're "excited" by the pick, while another 31% say they're "satisfied, but not excited." Just 6% say they're dissatisfied with Biden's choice.

Overall, 57% of all likely voters say having a Californian as Vice President would be a positive thing for the state, while 24% say it would be very or somewhat negative.

The survey was completed between September 9 to 15, 2020 among 7,198 California registered voters, 5,942 of whom were considered likely to vote in the November presidential election.