'She's the smartest': Warren fans refuse to budge in Los Angeles

Andrew MARSZAL

Los Angeles (AFP) - Elizabeth Warren may be floundering in the polls, but that did not keep her die-hard California fans from casting their votes for the leading female candidate left in the race Tuesday.

The Massachusetts senator has failed to finish in the top two of any primary so far, prompting pressure from Bernie Sanders' camp to drop out and unite the Democrats' more progressive wing in the battle against Donald Trump.

But Tricia Reilly, wearing a blue T-shirt emblazoned with Warren's "Nevertheless, She Persisted" slogan at a Los Angeles polling center, refused to budge.

"I was very excited to vote for her today -- I know it's not looking good, but I still feel good about it," said the 41-year-old pop culture writer.

"I'd like my mom to live to see the day for something like that to happen -- in this particular climate and as a response to Trump especially, a woman would be a very powerful choice."

Warren, who led some national polls as recently as October, has badly faded since the primaries kicked off last month.

But with California's Kamala Harris long ago suspending her campaign, Amy Klobuchar dropping out Monday, and Tulsi Gabbard mired in the low single-digits, fans across Los Angeles pointed to Warren as the main -- if unlikely -- female hope.

- 'Strong woman' -

"I'm looking for a strong woman to represent the values of my gender," said Danielle, a 31-year-old non-profit worker in west Los Angeles who did not want to give her last name.

"She's the smartest one... and as long as she's on my ballot, I will vote for her," said Mitchell Stubbs, 59, voting at Playa Del Rey beach near Los Angeles.

For consultant Tiffany Fordham, there was more than wishful thinking behind her choice to vote for Warren on Super Tuesday.

"There's still a lot of delegates to go," the 41-year-old Fordham said in Los Feliz, referring to the elected representatives who formally choose the Democratic nominee.

"People say, 'Oh well, I don't know if she can win so I'll vote for someone else.'

"Well, if everybody that said that actually voted for her, then I believe that she could still be viable."

Nonetheless, several voters told AFP they had been torn between Sanders and Warren, but ultimately opted for the frontrunner for strategic reasons.

One female voter, who asked not to be named, said she felt there was "toxic" and "vicious" pressure from some of Sanders' online fans -- but not the candidate himself -- to switch sides.

But for Reilly, questions of electoral math and voting strategy were for another day.

"Today is a day to vote with your heart," said Reilly. "In November, I'll rally behind whoever I have to."