Some Californians Regret Voting Early

After Joe Biden’s blowout win in the South Carolina primary and the weekend decisions of Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer to drop out of the 2020 race, some California voters who already cast ballots can’t help but feel a bit of remorse over their pick for Democratic presidential nominee. 

Early voting for the California presidential primary election began Feb. 3, a month before the state officially holds its election on Super Tuesday. In general, the early voting process aims to make the primary more convenient, increasing turnout and diversifying the electorate.

But some Californians who voted weeks ago ― prior to the weekend’s shakeup ― are wishing they had held on to their ballot in order to have more influence over the 2020 race. 

I “voted two weeks ago for Pete and wish I waited later to vote for Biden,” Los Angeles resident Justin Satzman, who works in entertainment marketing, told HuffPost in an email. “I’m terrified that no one but Bernie reaches viability statewide and my home state provides him with a delegate lead that’s insurmountable.” 

“It’s my fault for voting early during a close primary,” Satzman added.

Some states like Michigan, which holds its primary on March 10, allow early voters to “spoil” their ballots and obtain a new one. But not California, which has greater influence over the nominating process this cycle. The state scheduled its 2016 primary in June, which minimized early voter regret but weakened the most populous U.S. state’s influence on selecting the nominee.

James Barba, another voter from California, said he hasn’t wavered in his support for Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. But he said a close family member voted for former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose fortunes seem to have shifted after a pair of unsteady debate performances, and now feels differently about him.

“He made a confession to the whole family today at a birthday gathering because he was ashamed and wished he could have his ballot back,” Barba said in an email on Sunday. “He would vote for Biden today.” 

The former vice president is hoping that his dominant victory in South Carolina translates into additional support across the 14 states that will vote on Super Tuesday. With Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont leading in most polls of California, Biden needs to outperform with voters who haven’t yet voted to qualify for the 15% threshold required to win any delegates in the state. One analysis showed that about 40% of California voters have already cast their ballots, however.

Biden has some reason to be optimistic. The percentage of ballots already cast at this stage is much lower than in recent California elections, according to Politico, meaning there is a bigger pool of voters who could still boost his campaign. Some indicated on Twitter they would turn his way:

Other California early voters said they felt confident about their choices, despite the last-minute shakeup.

“Mailed in my ballot for Warren a couple weeks ago. No regrets,” Steve Meng, a chemistry teacher, said.

 “I’m a big Bernie fan so I was very happy to vote for him. He is doing great in the polls here in California. I think he is going to have a really big night this upcoming Tuesday,” added Ryan Maguire.

With 494 delegates up for grabs (more than 10% of the total), California could have a huge impact on the race. But the state, infamous for slow vote counting, may not know the results for weeks. That would mean top-placing candidates could miss out on election night momentum.

If he does well on Super Tuesday, Sanders could take a huge step toward building an insurmountable delegate lead. He kept most of his focus on those contests last week, holding huge rallies drawing thousands in San Jose and Los Angeles on Sunday. 

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