Surprisingly, Vice President Kamala Harris is looking like she may be something of a political asset to President Joe Biden. In a new poll from the New York Times/Sienna College, Harris actually came out on top of Biden, suggesting that she may improve the quality of the ticket in the eyes of voters.
To be clear, Harris’s numbers were far from superlative – they were merely better than Biden’s, who numbers were rather unimpressive. So before we celebrate Harris as the future of the Democratic Party, let’s have some respect for relativity: In the poll, Biden trailed behind Trump with a five-point overall margin. Harris also trailed Trump – but with only a three-point margin, suggesting she’s in a slightly better position to take on Trump than her boss Biden. Yet a closer look at the numbers suggests Harris is notably favored over Biden.
Harris favored over Biden
I’ve never been much of a Kamala Harris cheerleader. 19FortyFive is full of articles I’ve written suggesting that the vice president is a liability to President Biden’s ticket, that Biden may want to consider replacing her. And while one poll result, a year out from the election, doesn’t suggest that Harris is Biden’s savior, let’s consider the numbers.
“While Mr. Biden doesn’t fare all that much worse than his running mate, the top-line similarity obscures major differences in their support,” The New York Times reported. “A full 11 percent of Ms. Harris’s would-ve supporters do not back Mr. Biden, and two-thirds of them are either nonwhite or younger than 30.”
So, the poll suggests that if Biden could convert the young and nonwhite voters who have said they won’t vote for him – but are willing to vote for his vice president – Biden would lead with a three point margin across battleground states. Easier said than done, but the support for Harris suggests a beachhead for the Biden administration to expand from.
The odd thing is that Harris is not even popular – she’s just more popular than Biden. But the good news for both unpopular officials at the top of the Democratic ticket: they’ll likely be running against an exceedingly unpopular Republican.
Running against an unpopular opponent
While the Biden ticket is hemorrhaging support (including support amongst long-secured Democratic voting blocs: young voters and nonwhite voters), the Democratic defectors are not necessarily enthused about the Republican alternative, Donald Trump.
“The relatively tepid support for Mr. Trump among young and nonwhite voters raises the possibility that many of the voters fueling his gains simply might not vote next November,” The New York Times reported. “In fact, virtually all of Mr. Biden’s weakness is concentrated among less engaged voters who sat out the last midterm election. Many of these voters will ultimately vote in a presidential race, but not all of them will.”
Curiously, Democrats usually benefit from mobilizing voters, especially young and nonwhite voters, whereas now the hope seems to be that some voters stay home on election day.
Again, I think the simplest fix for Democrats would be to run an alternative to the octogenarian Biden and his unpopular vice president – someone the American public expresses some enthusiasm for up front.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer 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.