We have written extensively at 19FortyFive about the foibles of Kamala Harris. She has trouble communicating and is afflicted with repetitious, circular rhetoric that often doesn’t make sense. She has no obvious policy accomplishments, and it doesn’t appear she has a clear role in the administration. But the good news for the vice president is that she has strong support from Democrats.
She Is a Dream for Democrats
For left-leaning voters, Harris checks all the boxes. She is the first woman, Indian-American, and Jamaican-American to achieve such a high office. She has served as a district attorney, an attorney general, and a U.S. Senator. She articulates the usual progressive stances on issues such as abortion rights, climate change, firearms, and immigration.
Poll Shows Huge Support from the Left
A recent opinion shows just how much liberals support her. Most Democrats would approve of Kamala Harris becoming president should Biden falter in some way and become unable to serve. A whopping 86 percent of Democrats in a June 14 Suffolk University/ USA Today poll are fine with Harris becoming commander-in-chief.
Here Is the Kamala Harris Problem
However, a smaller proportion of voters, only 73 percent, approve of the job she is doing as vice president. In a daily average of various opinion polls about Kamala Harris among all voters, she scores an anemic 37 percent from FiveThirtyEight. Monmouth University also has her at 37 percent approval. That means most Republicans have negative feelings about the vice president and a substantial number of Independents feel the same way.
President Joe Biden is unconcerned about her low approval ratings among right-leaning voters and centrists. He has no plans of replacing her on the ballot. He extols her experience and political talent, and he is aware that she has rock star status among Democrats. Removing her from the vice presidency would likely result in backlash from the left.
Would You Really Want Harris as President?
Republicans would be aghast at a Harris presidency. Some of the GOP White House hopefuls are reminding Americans that a vote for Biden would be a vote for Harris as president since many believe that Biden will not make it through another four years due to his physical health and mental state from old age.
Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley told Fox News in June, “We are running against Kamala Harris. Kamala Harris is going to end up being president of the United States if Joe Biden wins this election.”
Kamala Harris will also get a monetary shot in the arm from the pro-woman and pro-abortion political action committee Emily’s List. The group is investing $10 million in an effort to rehabilitate Harris’ image. This of course is a tacit admission that the vice president is lacking in popularity. But Emily’s List thinks this is because of misinformation and disinformation in the media and positive commercials and social media ads can rectify the situation.
The vice president has time to make her case to Independents. It is likely too late to move the needle with Republicans who often use Harris as a punching bag for her “word salads” and other gaffes. She still has much potential and appears to have regained her footing during trips to Africa and appearances on talk shows. The White House believes she can use these low-pressure events as a springboard to greater popularity.
The big test for Harris will be the vice-presidential debate in the fall of 2024 against the Republican VP nominee. Harris needs to nail down a win or at least hold her own during the forum. She passed her last test in 2020 against Vice President Mike Pence during their match-up. Pence likely won the debate for some piercing lines against Biden, but Harris made no obvious stumbles.
Kamala Harris still seems to suffer from nervousness on the stump. Sometimes she sticks to her prepared remarks, but these come off as wooden, stilted, and uninspired. When she deviates from the script, she can engage in the word salads and get pilloried by the right. Harris must work on her communication skills if she wants to be president someday. It is possible she can move more centrists to her column, but those low approval numbers are scary.
The best bet is for her to hold the line with members of her own party and hope that Biden still allows her to serve on the ticket. That is the best course of action if she wants to graduate from vice president to president.
Author Expertise and Experience
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.