September 22, 2019


Why Has Kamala Harris's Campaign Fizzled? (Josh Adams, 9/21/19, Quillette)

For Democrats, the current 2020 election cycle is perhaps the most important in modern history. For the party faithful, unseating Trump--a man Democrats consider to be the worst President in modern history--has become the overriding concern, even eclipsing the party's lively policy debate. One rising star, and a politician many considered would give the President a run for his money, is the junior senator from California, Kamala Harris.

Superficially, Harris looks like the party's dream candidate. She is a woman--an asset to a party animated by gender politics, concerns about diversity and still reeling from the #MeToo movement. She is also an ethnic minority (her mother is Indian, her father is Jamaican), another box ticked for a party which draws considerable support from non-whites. Her former life as a prosecutor, San Francisco district attorney and California state attorney would be a dangerous match-up for the unscrupulous Trump, who has spent more time than most avoiding a court room. Having been a senator since 2016, she is already a national political figure. She has also proved herself to be a fairly effective debater, being seen to best former Vice President Biden in previous encounters.

Despite these apparent pluses, Harris' performance in the contest has so far been lacklustre. A tussle with the frontrunner Joe Biden in the second debate saw her reach 20 percent in one Quinnipiac poll, but the bump was short-lived. At the time of writing, Harris is once again languishing in single digits.

Things have only worsened for the Senator in recent days and weeks. Following the recent third round of primary debates, Harris emerged the most damaged of all of those on stage; decreasing her pool of potential voters more than any other of the candidates, particularly among voters who prize electability. Contrary to many post-debate takes, this is not necessarily down to nascent sexism among viewers, as Elizabeth Warren managed to improve her standing among those voters at the same time.

She has always been just the alternative to Joe Biden, because they both tick two of the three boxes of the electorate: moderate/conservative Democrats, primarily interested in winning; black voters (particularly women); and neither appeals to Progressives. Her problem is that Uncle Joe has maintained his stranglehold on the black vote and Donald's death spiral has created an environment where every candidate is electable--except, maybe, Bernie--but particularly Elizabeth Warren. It's pretty quickly becoming a two-man race and there may not be anyone left to pick up the pieces if Joe implodes, what with her and Cory Booker already on their last legs. senator Warren can pretty nearly start running her general election campaign now.  

The Challenges Ahead for Warren (Amy Walter, September 20, 2019, Cook Political Report)

Vice President Biden remains the solid favorite among older voters, African-Americans and moderate to conservative Democrats. Sen. Bernie Sanders is still the leading candidate among younger voters. Since August, Warren has made some small inroads into those demographic groups, according to CNN polling. For example, Warren gained 9 points among those over 45-years-old, while both Biden and Sanders lost ground (Biden lost four points, Sanders lost three). But, among non-white voters (Biden's core), Warren slipped two points and among 18-49-year-olds (Sanders voters), she gained just one point.

Posted by at September 22, 2019 7:50 AM