Kamala Harris Emerges as Potential Democratic Candidate for 2024 Amid Rising Support and Republican Concerns

Featured & Cover Kamala Harris Emerges as Potential Democratic Candidate for 2024 Amid Rising Support and Republican Concerns

Vice President Kamala Harris has captured the attention of Republican donors, holds significant name recognition, and is gaining support from influential Democratic Party figures. Should President Joe Biden step aside from the 2024 election, Harris would be the natural successor, according to top Democrats. This raises a crucial question: Does Harris have a better chance than Biden of defeating Donald Trump? Despite Biden’s insistence on staying in the race, discussions about Harris’s potential candidacy are intensifying.

If Harris were to become the party’s nominee and win the November 5 election, she would be the first woman president of the United States, and the first African American and Asian individual to serve as vice president. Her tenure in the White House over the past three and a half years has been marked by a slow start, significant staff turnover, and challenging early assignments, such as addressing Central American migration, which did not yield major successes.

As recently as last year, concerns within the White House and Biden’s campaign team regarding Harris’s potential liability to the campaign were prevalent. However, her recent efforts on abortion rights and engagement with young voters have significantly altered this perception among Democratic officials.

The Biden-Harris campaign expressed, “She is proud to be his running mate and looks forward to serving at his side for four more years.” Recent polls indicate that Harris might have an edge over Biden in a potential matchup against Trump. A CNN poll released on July 2 showed Trump leading Biden by six percentage points (49% to 43%), while Harris trailed Trump by a narrower margin of 47% to 45%, within the margin of error. The poll also revealed that independents favor Harris over Trump (43% to 40%) and that moderate voters prefer her 51% to 39%.

Another poll by Reuters/Ipsos following a debate between Trump and a struggling Biden showed Harris and Trump nearly tied, with 42% supporting Harris and 43% backing Trump. Among possible alternatives to Biden, only former First Lady Michelle Obama, who has shown no interest in running, polled higher. Internal polling from the Biden campaign indicated that Harris has similar odds as Biden of beating Trump, with 45% of voters supporting her compared to 48% for Trump.

Several influential Democrats have signaled their support for Harris as the best option if Biden steps aside. These include U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn, a key figure in Biden’s 2020 victory; Rep. Gregory Meeks, a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Summer Lee, a House Democrat from Pennsylvania. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has also reportedly indicated support for Harris in private discussions.

Republican donors are taking Harris seriously, with some preferring Trump to face Biden rather than her. Pauline Lee, a Trump fundraiser in Nevada, stated, “I would prefer Biden to stay in place,” and criticized Biden as “incompetent.” Wall Street, a crucial Democratic fundraising hub, is also beginning to show a preference for Harris. Sonu Varghese, global macro strategist at Carson Group, remarked, “Biden is already behind Trump, and is unlikely to overcome that gap given where his campaign is currently. Having VP Harris likely improves Democrats’ odds of taking the White House.”

However, a majority of Americans view Harris negatively, similar to their perceptions of Biden and Trump. Polling data from Five Thirty Eight shows 37.1% of voters approve of Harris while 49.6% disapprove, compared to Biden’s 36.9% approval and 57.1% disapproval, and Trump’s 38.6% approval and 53.6% disapproval.

Since the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to repeal the constitutional right to abortion, Harris has become the administration’s leading voice on reproductive rights. This issue is central to the Democrats’ strategy for the 2024 election. Harris could invigorate key Democratic-leaning groups whose enthusiasm for Biden has waned, including Black voters, young voters, and those dissatisfied with Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Tim Ryan, a former Democratic Congressman from Ohio, wrote, “She would energize the Black, brown, and Asian Pacific members of our coalition…she would immediately pull the dispirited youth of our country back into the fold.”

Harris’s stance on Israel is aligned with Biden’s, though she was the first senior U.S. leader to call for a ceasefire in March. Abbas Alawieh of the “Uncommitted” movement, which withheld votes for Biden over his support for Israel, stated, “Simply swapping out the candidate does not address the central concern.”

If Biden steps aside, other Democrats might compete for the nomination. However, choosing another candidate over Harris could alienate Black voters, crucial to Biden’s 2020 victory. Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPAC, asserted, “There is no alternative besides Kamala Harris…Jump over the Black woman, the vice president, and I don’t think the Democratic Party actually recovers.”

Harris may struggle to win over moderate Democrats and independent voters who favor Biden’s centrist policies. Dmitri Mehlhorn, adviser to LinkedIn co-founder and Democratic megadonor Reid Hoffman, noted, “Her greatest weakness is that her public brand has been associated with the far-left wing of the Democratic Party…and the left wing cannot win a national election.”

Harris would inherit Biden’s campaign infrastructure and funds, a crucial advantage with only four months until election day. However, Democratic strategists emphasize the need to raise hundreds of millions more dollars. A Democratic National Committee source remarked, “I can tell you we have a really tough time raising money for her.”

During the 2020 presidential race, Harris lagged behind Biden in fundraising, dropping out in December 2019 after reporting $39.3 million in total contributions compared to Biden’s $60.9 million. However, Biden’s campaign raised a record $48 million in 24 hours after naming Harris as his running mate.

Some Democrats believe Harris’s prosecutorial background could shine in a debate against Trump. Mehlhorn commented, “She is incredibly focused and forceful and smart, and if she prosecutes the case against the criminality of Donald Trump, she will rip him apart.”

Republican attacks on Harris are increasing as she is considered a possible replacement for Biden. Conservative media are reviving criticism from the 2020 race, including claims that she laughs too much and is untested and unqualified. The New York Post, owned by News Corp, ran a column titled “America may soon be subjected to the country’s first DEI president: Kamala Harris,” criticizing her rise due to the party’s diversity initiatives.

Kelly Dittmar, a political science professor at Rutgers University, said, “Unfortunately, the reliance on both racist and sexist attacks and tropes against women running for office is historically common and persists to this day.”

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