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Kamala Harris faces uphill climb to the presidency based on current poll numbers

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Vice President Kamala Harris has her work cut out for her if she wants to succeed President Joe Biden at the White House in four or eight years.

Harris may be Biden's heir apparent, but her unfavorable ratings, even among Biden supporters, are high for a politician hoping to move from Number One Observatory Circle to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

And she has not been helped by her own penchant for public missteps.


Harris's average favorability rating hovers around 44%, while her unfavorability rating is 46%, according to polling aggregator RealClearPolitics. Biden's numbers are superior, with an average favorable-unfavorable rating of 52%-43%.

For instance, an Economist/YouGov survey published this week exposed Harris's weaknesses with white men, especially those without a college degree, and white women without a college education.

Although her overall favorable-unfavorable rating was within the margin of error, she was not popular with people older than 45 or those earning less than $100,000 annually, Suffolk University Political Research Center Director David Paleologos told the Washington Examiner. She also struggled with respondents from the Midwest and independents.

Almost 1 in 5 people who backed Biden last fall did not think highly of Harris or did not have an opinion of her, according to a finding that stood out to Paleologos.

"That says that either some 2020 Biden voters thought there was a better pick or they're not convinced that they like her, either for policy reasons or performance reasons," he said.

Or some may be Republicans or independents who could not cast a ballot for former President Donald Trump, he said.

Biden has packed Harris's policy portfolio with politically charged issues, including addressing the "root causes" of illegal immigration as border crossings surged. Yet, Harris has complicated matters for herself by volunteering to spearhead the administration's response to Republicans passing a spate of election integrity laws.

She has also demonstrated her ability to self-sabotage, laughing off her delayed trip to the border and claiming to have lobbied lawmakers on issues she had not.

"Biden needs to be more supportive publicly and engaged with Vice President Harris so that he can at least shore up his own voters," Paleologos said. "Biden is in control of at least that small component of the electorate."

For Paleologos, the data points aid Harris in identifying areas of improvement. They also guide Republicans toward demographics they can exploit, he said.

However, Paleologos believed Harris could mount a White House bid if she invested in Midwest states or independents.

"That's the way candidates use bad news to their advantage, where they can turn lemons into lemonade," he said.

Joel Goldstein, St. Louis University School of Law professor and vice presidential expert, said he was not surprised Harris's polling was weaker than Biden's.

No. 2s have fewer opportunities to showcase their leadership skills, and voters are not informed of their every move, as they are the supporting act to the commander in chief's headliner presence, Goldstein explained.

In comparison to Biden's half-a-century in politics, Harris's six years as California's attorney general and four years representing the state as a senator in Congress means her name recognition is lower. That leaves her with a malleable image as well.

"A VP's numbers during her or his first six months don't predict whether they will be elected president or not," Goldstein said. "That's much more dependent on how they are seen once they become presidential candidates and offer their own programs and voters envision them as president."

While the understudy role has doubled as a solid White House springboard since Richard Nixon, it does not guarantee success.

Since the start of the 20th century, only George H.W. Bush was elected president while serving as the incumbent vice president. Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson were elected after inheriting the role from a dead predecessor.

Henry Wallace, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, and Al Gore all lost their respective campaigns. And the second time was a charm for Nixon, who, like Biden, was elected to the top spot as a former vice president.

Goldstein name-checked former Vice President Mike Pence. Pence has entered the shadow race for the 2024 Republican primary, should Trump rule himself out of consideration. Still, his average favorability-unfavorability rating is on par with Harris's, according to RealClearPolitics.


"Pence's current predicament reminds us that a VP's apparent prospects can change rather quickly based on events," he said. "For much of the Trump presidency, VP Pence was viewed as a strong contender in 2024, a perception that has changed since Republican voters apparently now view him less favorably because of his refusal on Jan. 6, 2021, to exceed the very limited legal authority he had presiding over the electoral count."

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Tags: News, Kamala Harris, Biden, Biden Administration, Joe Biden, White House

Original Author: Naomi Lim

Original Location: Kamala Harris faces uphill climb to the presidency based on current poll numbers

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