Vice President Kamala Harris has been in the news a lot this week.
In addition to dancing with Bravo’s Andy Cohen outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City to mark the end of Pride Month, she had the dubious distinction of having the lowest net-negative rating of any modern vice president according to a newly released NBC News poll.
Just 32 percent of registered voters said they had a positive view of VP Harris, compared to 49 percent who said they had a negative view, including 39 percent who expressed having a “very negative view.”
Overall Harris had a net -17 rating, which NBC News noted was “the lowest for any vice president in the poll’s history.”
Kamala Harris Is a Problem
The poor approval of Harris has spurred talk yet again that the Democratic Party could be in trouble heading into next year’s election.
President Joe Biden isn’t exactly popular either, and many Americans cite his age as a factor. But Harris could be seen as the bigger problem.
“The perception that (Biden) will not be mentally fit enough to carry out the demands of the job may be unfair, but that perception is clearly held by a majority of voters, including Democrats and Independents,” wrote Tom Rogers, editor-at-large for Newsweek.
However, the answer isn’t to ditch Biden, suggested Rogers, but to consider whether Harris should remain on the ticket. “Vice President Harris could render Joe Biden unelectable. Which is why it is Harris who should be replaced.”
Could It Really Be Done?
As previously reported, replacing Harris isn’t so simple. No sitting president has opted to select a new running mate since Gerald Ford ditched Vice President Nelson Rockefeller for Senator Bob Dole in 1976.
Ford, who had ascended to the Oval Office after President Richard Nixon resigned, was forced to select a candidate that would appeal to the more conservative base of the Republican Party. Ford later admitted he regretted the decision to dump Rockefeller, but it was a moot point as he was defeated by Jimmy Carter in the general election.
That was a case of changing one old white guy for another old white guy.
Ditching Harris would be a far bigger deal. Harris is the first female, Black, and Asian-American U.S. vice president.
“You cannot replace your first Black woman vice president and think that Black people and women are going to just vote for you,” a former White House official warned earlier this year when such a switch was suggested by some in the media. “He needs her.”
Changing his VP would also put into question Biden’s past judgment on picking her in the first place. That would make changing VPs all the more challenging.
Even Rogers admitted that replacing Kamala Harris would need to be done in a sensitive manner.
“The President must be careful not to alienate Harris supporters,” Rogers added, who said Biden would need to replace her with another Black running mate. That could still be a problem – as it would likely need to be a woman of color as well.
But what about Harris? She has been loyal, and here Rogers has the answer.
“(Biden) should announce her appointment as Attorney General of the U.S., an extremely prestigious position with even more power at which she can excel. Having been both a district attorney, and attorney general of the most populous state, she is not only unquestionably qualified for the role, but on the many issues related to voting rights and abortion which she has taken the lead on, the AG role would provide a position of ultimate authority from which she could most affect those issues.”
Given her poll numbers, Harris likely knows the only way she could move into the Oval Office is if Biden needs to step down (or worse). If he does make it through a second term, her political career would likely be over. However, as AG she could have more actual power in the administration and possibly move on to bigger things, possibly following in the footsteps of those former AGs – including William Henry Moody, Joseph McKenna, and most recently Tom C. Clark – who were all appointed to the Supreme Court.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.