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OPINION | Dems need a fresh face for 2020: Try Kamala Harris

kamala harris
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kamala harris

If Democrats are serious about taking back power, they need a new strategy.

Given the party’s current minority position and struggles throughout the first half of 2017, it is clear that the Democrats need fresh leaders if they hope to return to power in Washington.

{mosads}I have consistently argued that the Democratic Party must promote a pro-growth agenda that offers clear alternatives to the Republicans to regain voters. Democrats cannot run a campaign on simply being anti-Republican and resisting the president at every step.


Looking forward, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is well-positioned to potentially be the leader who returns the Democratic Party to the majority.

The junior senator from California has already begun developing a strong case for the presidency.

Not only is she a break from both traditional and “resistance” Democrats, but she also has experience at all levels of government, from the local and state to the national level.

Uniquely, Harris has the ability to reignite the Obama coalition that collapsed in 2016.

In particular, more than half of President Obama’s winning coalition in 2012 (57.3 percent) were voters who considered themselves moderate or conservative and more than 70 percent were also self-identified Christians. 

These moderate and value-based voter groups can return a Democrat to the White House in 2020.

Hillary Clinton failed to sway these voter groups in 2016, but Harris could have considerable success with these groups.

In terms of her leadership on key campaign issues, Harris has a plan to reinvigorate the economy that is not merely redistribution, but would boost the middle class.

Harris wants to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit to keep families above the poverty line.

In addition, she has a history of protecting small businesses and ending abusive lawsuits in California while serving as the state’s attorney general.

Harris has the economic vision a Democratic presidential candidate needs to win back white working-class voters, and, ultimately, the presidency.

To be sure, Harris’ candidacy does face considerable challenges. A lack of national exposure and a lack of legislative experience in Washington, in particular, are two weaknesses Harris must overcome to position herself as potentially the next president of the United States.

While she does represent the largest state in the country in Congress, Harris will need to increase her national name recognition beyond California. Further, accomplishing this through leadership on the issues and legislative success can demonstrate that she is a viable presidential candidate. 

In terms of legislative experience as well, Harris will need to overcome the fact that she has been a U.S. senator for only six months. At the time she would presumably announce her candidacy for president if she were to run in 2020, she would have served in the federal government for just two years.

Despite these weaknesses, Kamala Harris embodies what is possible for the Democratic Party in 2020.

Harris can be the fresh face the party needs to excite its base as well as critical swing voters again.

Douglas E. Schoen served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton. A longtime political consultant and pollster, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books. His latest book isPutin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence (Encounter, 2016). Follow him on Twitter @DouglasESchoen

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags 2020 African-American women in politics Bill Clinton Democrats Douglas E. Schoen Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton Kamala Harris Political parties in the United States Politics Politics of the United States Republicans United States White House
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