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Six months after being elected vice president, Kamala Harris continues to lag in popularity behind President Joe Biden, with her poll numbers causing some concern among Democrats.
While vice presidents do not usually outperform their boss in favourability ratings, Ms Harris’s lower ratings are complicating the Biden administration’s midterm strategy, reports The Hill.
Ms Harris’s unfavourable rating was 46 percent, according to an aggregate average of recent surveys, compiled by RealClearPolitics. That number is 3 points below Mr Biden’s equivalent.
A VP visit to a congressional district is often used to give candidates a boost, but as Democrats work to keep slim majorities in the House and Senate, Ms Harris’s polling numbers are giving them pause.
“As of right now, I think she has the potential of doing more harm than good for some of these candidates,” one strategist told The Hill. “My sense is she’ll probably raise a lot of money and maybe she’ll go to some specific districts, but they’ll have to be really strategic with her.”
Many believe the vice president has ground to make up after some tactical errors this year. She has come under fire in particular about border issues, an important part of her policy portfolio, and faced a barrage of negative headlines after telling immigrants “don’t come here” during a press conference on a trip south of the Mexican border.
A spokesperson for Ms Harris declined to comment.
Joel Benenson, former President Barack Obama’s chief pollster, said that popularity fluctuations are to be expected: “She’s not the person who’s out front day in and day out,” Mr Benenson said. “It’s a lot harder to break through as vice president.”
As the first female, Black and Asian American vice president, Ms Harris has also had to contend with sustained attacks from the right wing, who have sought to brand her in a negative light, at times using racist and sexist stereotypes to discredit her.
Mr Benenson said he was confident that Ms Harris’s popularity would rise. He added that she could be a major asset on the ground in Georgia particularly, where Democrats will be supporting Senator Raphael Warnock’s efforts to win a full term in the Senate as well as fighting the voting rights issue.
“You’re going to use your vice president strategically,” said Mr Benenson. “She’s going to be popular in many places that will matter.”