Sanders surges as Clinton's support slides in California
Hillary Clinton, frontrunner for the Democratic US presidential nomination, has seen a dramatic drop in support among likely California primary voters since May as rival Bernie Sanders has surged, a Field Poll released yesterday shows.
Less than half (47pc) of likely Democratic voters in the June 2016 presidential primary in California now say they will vote for Ms Clinton, whose candidacy has been damaged by a scandal over her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, according to the survey.
The poll conducted in May found that 66pc of likely primary voters supported Ms Clinton, first lady during the administration of her husband, former president Bill Clinton, and later a US senator.
Meanwhile, self-styled socialist Mr Sanders, Ms Clinton's most prominent challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination, has since May climbed from single-digit voter support among California voters to 35pc, according to the poll.
Mark DiCamillo, the Field Poll's director, said California appeared to be in sync with voters nationally, where Ms Clinton's approval ratings have suffered under the weight of the email revelations.
"I think it primarily has to do with the fact that over the past few months almost all the news voters have heard about Clinton has been about this email scandal, and not her policy positions," he said. "The campaign is pretty much in a defensive mode and that's never a good thing."
The poll also found less enthusiasm for Ms Clinton as the party's nominee and that 63pc of likely voters believed it would be a good thing if US Vice-President Joe Biden were to enter the race.
However, only 15pc of likely voters said they would back Mr Biden in the June primary if he were to enter the race, an apparent contradiction that Mr DiCamillo said was explained by Democrats' frustration over a primary season that had seen their candidates overshadowed by a noisier Republican race.
"What that says to me is that Democratic voters really would like the opportunity to see their candidate against any and all comers, and Biden would certainly be welcomed into race," he said.
"That might turn more attention to the Democratic primary."