At 28 percent approval, say goodbye to Kamala Harris being Plan B to an aging Biden
She was supposed to be the one-term president’s successor. The vice president who would take the torch from a by-then-80-something Joe Biden and carry on the administration’s agenda while becoming the first woman and the first woman of color to capture the White House as the nation’s 47th president.
But as things stand now, one has to wonder how Kamala Harris even remains on the ticket in 2024, regardless of who the nominee might be. A USA Today-Suffolk University poll finds that just 28 percent of voters — less than 3 in 10 — approve of the job Harris is doing. For context, that’s 10 points below her boss (38 percent approve, 59 percent disapprove). For more context, Harris was at 46 percent approval and 40 percent disapproval upon entering office, per USA Today-Suffolk.
Harris’s struggles are primarily twofold:
- She’s practically invisible.
It’s been 153 days since her last sit-down interview with a major broadcast news entity, in the form of NBC’s Lester Holt. You may recall that was the beginning of the end of the administration’s confidence in her abilities to handle even the most basic of questions.
“Do you have any plans to visit the border?” Holt asked.
“At some point, you know, we are going to the border,” Harris replied, before oddly repeating herself as if a short-circuit had occurred. “We’ve been to the border. So, this whole thing about the border — we’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.”
“You haven’t been to the border,” Holt correctly noted.
“And I haven’t been to Europe,” Harris snapped before laughing. “And, I mean, I don’t understand the point that you’re making.”
LESTER HOLT: You haven’t been to the border.
KAMALA HARRIS: And I haven’t been to Europe. pic.twitter.com/Vj6M261Nx3
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) June 8, 2021
Since then, the only interview Harris has granted was to “The View” on ABC. Her own staff couldn’t have provided a gentler platform.
The vice president has yet to do a solo press conference. Out of sight, out of mind. And when judging Harris solely on the primary task she was given by the president, 23 percent approve of the administration’s handling of the U.S. border, or less than one-quarter.
- Harris was never liked much to begin with.
Harris has been dubbed a 2020 presidential candidate. But that’s a misnomer, because she never even got to 2020 as a candidate. Never got to Iowa or New Hampshire. She was polling lower than even Andrew Yang in her home state of California in December 2019, prompting her to drop out while seeming to blame Democratic voters for misogyny and racism.
Discussing her campaign with “Axios on HBO”, Kamala Harris says electability is the “elephant in the room”, questioning whether America is ready for a woman — and a woman of color — to be president. pic.twitter.com/vykBmAvIhL
— Axios (@axios) October 28, 2019
Harris told Axios at the time: “I have also started to perhaps be more candid talking about what I describe and what I believe to be the elephant in the room about my campaign.”
Axios: “What is that?”
Axios: “What do you mean?”
Harris: “Electability. You know, essentially, is America ready for a woman and a woman of color to be president of the United States?”
Yet, Barack Obama was twice elected president as a person of color, while Hillary Clinton captured 3 million more votes than Donald Trump in the 2016 general election. So there’s that.
Overall, the USA Today-Suffolk poll has some disturbing numbers for Biden-Harris. Consider the answers to the question, “What is the one thing Americans want President Biden to do in the next year?”
— Resign/retire/quit: 20 percent
— Economy/jobs: 11 percent
— Unite/help the country: 8 percent
— Immigration/border control: 8 percent
— COVID/mandates: 6 percent
— Infrastructure bills: 5 percent
— Inflation: 4 percent
— Health care: 3 percent
— Climate change/environment: 3 percent
— Bipartisanship: 3 percent
That’s right: The top of the list is Americans wanting the president to resign or quit.
Even more revealing: 64 percent of Americans (nearly two-thirds) don’t want Biden to run again, including a whopping 28 percent of Democrats.
Can the administration turn this around? Perhaps. But some shake-ups will be needed. Some accountability. A pivot to something resembling the middle. But we’ve seen no inclination to make such a pivot, to make staff changes.
Republicans now lead Democrats by 8 points on the congressional ballot, per USA Today’s survey. Just four seats need to be flipped for Republicans to take control of the House, just one net overall in the Senate. President Obama lost 63 seats in 2010 before losing the Senate in 2014. Donald Trump lost 43 seats in 2018 before losing the Senate in 2020.
2022 Generic Congressional Ballot Poll:
— PollTracker (@PollTrackerUSA) November 7, 2021
Harris was supposed to represent the next generation of Democrats. She was Plan B for an aging president. At 28 percent approval, it’s hard to see how the VP ever takes the next step to the Oval Office.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.