Democrats are deeply concerned about Vice President Kamala Harris’s electability.
Democrats worry not just about the prospect of Harris running on her own if President Joe Biden steps aside — they worry about Kamala Harris running on the ticket with Biden.
That’s how unpopular she is. She’s an easy target for Republican criticism, and in an election where the presidential candidate is over 80 years old, the vice presidential pick takes on a special emphasis.
Worried Democrats aren’t just speculating here.
They are relying on consistent polling data.
What the Polls Say
“Poll results at both the national and early presidential primary state levels suggest [Harris] will struggle electorally once President Joe Biden’s political career is over,” SF Gate reported.
“Friday, she received a similarly concerning poll from her home state of California.”
In a new poll of California voters, which the Berkeley Institute of Government Studies and Los Angeles Times conducted together through mid-February, respondents were asked: “If Joe Biden decides not to run for a second term for President in 2024, how would you feel about Vice President Kamala Harris running for President in 2024?” The results were not encouraging for Harris’s prospects.
Only 16% of respondents answered that they would be “very enthusiastic,” while a further 21% answered that they would be “somewhat enthusiastic.”
Another 18% answered, “not too enthusiastic.” And a declarative plurality of 41% answered, “not enthusiastic at all.”
“In sum, just 37% of voters say they have enthusiasm for a Harris presidential bid, compared with a whopping 59% who expressed hesitancy,” SFGate reported.
“When looking at the results only among Democratic voters, 56% say they’d be enthusiastic, while 41% said they would not be. The fact that 4 in 10 California Democrats don’t want to see Harris run for president is extremely worrying news for her.”
Remember, Harris cut her teeth in California. She served in local politics, and she served as the Attorney General, and California Democrats sent Harris to the Senate.
The voters now saying they are not enthusiastic about Harris are the ones who know her best, the ones who voted her into office in the first place.
Kamala Harris and Future Prospects
Most observers are expecting Biden to run for re-election, meaning the question posed to California voters — how they would feel about a Harris presidential bid — is probably not directly applicable to the 2024 election cycle.
But Kamala Harris is waiting in the wings, and she does currently occupy the position most commonly associated with aspiring presidents.
The weakness of the Democratic bench makes Harris even more likely to be next in line. There is not any great competition to displace her.
Harris’s low polling numbers shouldn’t be all that surprising. First of all, her vice presidency hasn’t gone all that well. Staff turnover and a failure to generate traction on her docket of issues has led to perception that Harris is an ineffective leader. But there was a lack of enthusiasm for Harris way back in 2020, when she ran for president.
Despite running with wonderful fanfare and press coverage, Harris’s numbers were stuck in the low single digits. She was basically irrelevant to the campaign, aside from one quip about busing during one of the early debates.
Harris’s 2020 presidential bid ended early, in December 2019, serving as a harbinger of the lack of enthusiasm that has followed her throughout her vice presidency.
MORE: Kamala Harris Is Creating a Nightmare for Democrats
MORE: Are We Watching the End of Donald Trump?
MORE: Liz Cheney: Could She Join the Democratic Party?
MORE: Liz Cheney: The Next President of the United States?
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.