Kamala Harris leads the list of Biden running mates

Kamala Harris leads the list of Biden running mates
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Victory has a thousand mothers and fathers. A successful political campaign has many building blocks. Joe BidenJoe BidenAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Federal student loan payment suspension extended another month Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week MORE’s quest for the Democratic presidential nomination is no exception. There are many reasons for his win. But one factor that stands out in his claim on the Democratic nod was his success with African American voters.

After weak showings in the early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, Biden won a resounding victory in the Palmetto State with a strong assist from black voters there. In South Carolina, most of the primary voters were African American (56 percent) and they voted in large numbers for Biden over Vermont Senator Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Unemployment gains lower than expected | Jobs report lights fire under coronavirus relief talks Sanders says he can't support bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in its current form Progressives push for direct payments to be included in COVID-19 relief deal MORE (61 percent to 17 percent). 

After his big victory in South Carolina, Biden capitalized on his support with black Democratic voters with a strong showing on Super Tuesday. The former vice president’s win in Texas is a good example. Biden and Sanders received just about the same level of support from white voters (Biden 30 percent-Sanders 29 percent). But Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaSmearing presidential election will turn off young voters and undermine democracy 'Black Panther' star criticized for sharing video questioning COVID-19 vaccine Black voters: Low propensity, or low priority? MORE’s two-time running mate won the overwhelming support of African Americans primary voters in the Lone Star State (Biden 58 percent-Sanders 15 percent).


Why did Biden do so well with black primary voters? The relationship between Biden and Barack Obama was a big plus. The symbolism of an older white man serving a younger black man loyally for eight years makes it easy to understand Biden's overwhelming support from black Democrats in the nomination campaign. Sanders in contrast was dismissive of many aspects of the Obama presidency. Biden called for an expansion of President Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act. while Sanders wanted to replace Obamacare.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCan Biden find a third way between Trumpism and Obama-era globalism? Left seeks to influence Biden picks while signaling unity Schwarzenegger says he would 'absolutely' help Biden administration MORE is the favored vice presidential candidate of the most Democratic primary voters in a recent national poll conducted by CBS News. 

But black voters made Joe Biden. Will the presumptive Democratic nominee make good his debt to them with an African American running mate?

If Biden does decide to run with an African American, he has plenty of qualified women to choose from. For example, Chris Cillizza’s most recent ranking of the 10 most likely Biden running mates included five African American women. They were California Senator Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden officially clinches Electoral College votes with California certification Hillicon Valley: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security | Biden says China must play by 'international norms' | House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting Trump campaigns as wild card in Georgia runoffs MORE (number 1), former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice (number 5), Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (number 6), Florida Representative Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsDemings on Florida: 'We're excited about what we're seeing' but 'taking absolutely nothing for granted' Why it's time for a majority female Cabinet Sunday shows preview: The final push to Election Day MORE (number 8) and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams (number 9). 

Harris trails Warren 36 percent to 19 percent in the CBS vice presidential preference poll. But the senator from California is at the top of running mate rankings of most pundits. There's good reason for her standing with political insiders.


She has a killer resume. Harris has served in elective office at the federal, state and local level, which is strong preparation for serving as vice president or even president. Her career started as the San Francisco District Attorney in 2004. From there she went on to become Attorney General of California in 2011 and was elected U.S. Senator in 2016. 

Harris also has the kind of charisma which attracts attention. Harris, along with Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenate committee advances bill for national Latino museum Senate committee approves nominations of three FEC commissioners Scammers step up efforts to target older Americans during pandemic MORE (D-Minn.) and Cory BookerCory BookerJudge whose son was killed by gunman: 'Federal judiciary is under attack' Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Policy center calls for new lawmakers to make diverse hires MORE (D-N.J.), was one of the three members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who ran for president. During the hearings on the nomination of Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGOP senators back Christian school's push for COVID-19 carve-out Supreme Court sees new requests for religious COVID-19 carve-outs For Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty MORE to become an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, Klobuchar and Booker made strong showings. But it was Harris who was the focus of press attention during the committee’s deliberations.

Harris’ unsuccessful run for president is also a plus. In this day and age, the media exposure and vetting in a run for president are worth their weight in gold even if the candidate loses. If Biden asks her to be his running mate, he won't be in for any big surprises. It’s hardly a coincidence that three of the top four finishers in the CBS preference poll, Harris, Warren and Klobuchar ran for president in 2020. Stacy Abrams is the exception.

Klobuchar, like Harris, has served in elective office at all three levels of government. Klobuchar’s selling point is geography. She’s a daughter of the Midwest, which is ground zero in the battle for supremacy in the Electoral College.

But Biden may feel he owes a debt to African American voters for helping him become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. That obligation coincides with a strategic imperative for the Democratic nominee to run with an African American woman. An analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center indicated that there was a sharp drop from 66.6 percent to 59.6 in black turnout between Barack Obama’s last campaign in 2012 and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary and Chelsea Clinton to host series based on their book 'Gutsy Women' Democrats see spike in turnout among Asian American, Pacific Islander voters Biden officially announces ex-Obama official Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE’s race in 2016. 

African American participation is key to reclaiming the industrial Midwestern states that are important to victory in the Electoral College. Relatively low African American turnout in Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia contributed to Hillary Clinton's narrow defeats in the key battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The wide choice of quality candidates and the need to balance competing political interests will make selecting a running mate a very tough call for Joe Biden.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Dateline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.