Can Democrats Solve Their ‘Orange Harris Problem’?

By Charles Lipson for RealClearWire

Kamala Harris is a living embodiment of the Peter Principle, where people keep getting promoted until they land a job for which they are clearly unqualified. More Americans think that describes our current vice president.

Harris is deeply unpopular with independents, who are essential to electoral success (less than one in three voters view him favorably), and he is losing popularity among Democratic Party leaders. They see his incompetence, listen to his word salad and watch the polls with dismay. The latest evidence of Harris’ fading position is a scathing New York Times article filled, of all places, with anonymous disapproval from senior Democrats, many of whom once supported him. Now, they are worried.

Their fear is that even if he pulls in on the party ticket in 2024, it will be almost impossible to dislodge him. To win, Democrats need the enthusiastic support of African-Americans, who could be humiliated if Harris were tossed out. This problem could have been avoided if he had been replaced by another African American. But there is no obvious alternative. If Harris is replaced, it will likely be by a white or Hispanic candidate.

Such a shift would wound a party deeply invested in racial and ethnic identity politics, in which defeated groups are seen as aggrieved victims, winners as “privileged” oppressors. These divisions are most egregious when they center on America’s racial historical wounds and when they permeate the party.

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Generally, voters don’t care much about vice-presidential nominees, even when they’re not wild about the choice, as we learned in 1988 when George HW Bush chose Dan Quayle, and again two decades later with John McCain’s surprise election of Sarah Palin. . But 2024 could be different if Biden runs again. He’s already the oldest person to ever sit in the Oval Office, and he’s showing his age. While gaffes have plagued Biden throughout his career, they have gotten worse in recent years. There’s a reason he refuses to hold press conferences.

Voters are not blind to this chaos inside the White House. It’s a reasonable assumption that an 86-year-old man in a second term in the Oval Office won’t get the job done. His vice president will be forced to resign. Polls show voters aren’t thrilled with the prospect of Kamala Harris.

What is the evidence that voters are dissatisfied with Harris? The best evidence comes from the last two campaigns as well as recent opinion polls. When Harris ran for president in 2000, he had to drop out before the first primary vote. In a flashy roll-out that included national magazine covers and glowing endorsements, his vote was less than 1% in the Democratic primary. The failure is stunning because her resume checked all the boxes Democrats love: she was a progressive, a woman, a racial minority (black and Asian), and a senator from a deep blue state who could raise big money from California’s wealthy donors. But checking all those boxes wasn’t enough after hearings from primary voters.

The 2022 midterms once again exposed Harris’ flaws. Normally, the White House sends VIPs around the country with interested candidates to meet with such prominent national figures. Not now. Although candidates sought his help in raising money, they sought it behind closed doors. No joint public appearances, please.

Harris was also politically vilified when he was heaped with the unofficial title of “Border Czar”. Joe Biden gave him that thankless job. It was his decision, not hers, that opened the border to record numbers of illegal immigrants, deadly drugs and Mexican cartels. But Vice President Harris and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have become the public faces of that failed policy. They have compounded the problem by denying the obvious. From time to time, they have declared our southern border closed and secure. No one believes them, and for good reason. Only illegal border crossings have reached record highs, leaving the administration with no solution.

These mounting problems diminished Harris’s popularity. It was more than 50% when he and Biden took office. Now, more than half of adults surveyed view him unfavorably, including nearly 40% who view him “very unfavorably.” The reverse side of the ledger is not good. Only 14% say they have a “very favorable” opinion; Another 22% are “somewhat favorable.” Those bleak numbers are worse than Biden’s and make him the least popular vice president in recent history. They also explain that, if Biden runs again, only 39% want him as his running mate.

Harris’ unpopularity is not limited to one or two groups. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows him substantially underwater with all demographic groups except one. Among blacks, 62% of registered voters view Harris favorably; Only 17% unfavorably.

This racial divide is the root cause of the Democrats’ woes.

RELATED: GOP senators shocked at meeting where Biden snaps, fires Kamala Harris

Will this dilemma disappear if Biden does not run? Not necessarily. In an open race for the nomination, Kamala faced another prominent Democrat, such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Could lose to Gavin Newsom, or Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg If Harris loses after a sharp attack and the primary split along racial lines, the result could spell trouble for Democrats in the general election.

However, if Harris does indeed win the nomination and faces a stronger Republican candidate than Donald Trump, those issues will be dwarfed by his train baggage.

If Biden runs again, he’ll likely stick with Harris. Democrats have painted themselves into this corner. For decades they mobilized voters through identity politics. They highlighted group differences and escalated their grievances. As Joe Biden once told a black audience, they want to “put you all back in chains.” Now, that crazy dogma threatens to bite its owner.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

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