Sen. Kamala Harris’s mockery of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s July polling numbers comes back to haunt her.
In politics as in all things, glory can be fleeting.
After the first Democratic debate in late June, the MSM and liberal political commentators treated Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) like the invincible presidential candidate. Her polling numbers rose significantly after she broadsided frontrunner Joe Biden in the opening round. She also saw a nice boost in fundraising.
But the last two months have seen the Harris campaign endure an embarrassing freefall. Her polling numbers have tanked, she’s lost a significant amount of support from key Democratic voting blocs, and was on the receiving end of a brutal smackdown from Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI) at the second debate over her troubling criminal justice record.
You may remember that in a post-debate response to questions about Gabbard’s remarks, Harris mocked Gabbard’s polling numbers:
Kamala Harris on Tulsi Gabbard’s comments regarding her record as a prosecutor: “I’m obviously a top tier candidate and so I did expect that I would be on the stage and take hits tonight. … I'm prepared to move on” #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/kPNYfBs2rB
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 1, 2019
Those comments have now come back to haunt Harris. A new poll shows that she’s ahead of Gabbard by only 2 points, which is within the poll’s margin of error:
Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) called herself a “top-tier” candidate in July while mocking Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) for her low polling, but in a new survey Harris leads Gabbard by less than the margin of error.
Harris received just 5 percent support from likely Democratic primary voters in a new Economist/YouGov poll, down  points from the same survey last month. Gabbard was right behind Harris with 3 percent support, meaning Harris’s advantage is within the poll’s margin of error of 2.6 percent.
Here are the numbers:
Economist/YouGov poll: 2020 Dems
Biden 26% (+2 since last week)
Warren 21% (+1)
Sanders 14% (-)
Buttigieg 6% (+1)
Harris 5% (-3)
Yang 3% (+1)
Gabbard 3% (+1)
Castro 2% (-)
de Blasio 2% (+1)
[everyone else 1% or less]
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) September 4, 2019
So just what caused Harris’s dramatic decline? I speculated in August that Democratic voters might not approve of her racially-tinged attacks on Joe Biden, especially black voters who remember (and are frequently reminded of) his eight years with President Obama.
A recent report from Bloomberg bears that out, but notes plenty of other issues plaguing the Harris campaign:
Harris’s attempt to replicate her feat in the second debate backfired among Democrats who say she went too negative on Biden. The Californian also suffers from a perception that she lacks a deep ideological well to guide her policy ideas, in contrast to her three main rivals who are better-defined. And her past as a prosecutor has earned her supporters and detractors.
Harris and Senator Cory Booker “really went after Vice President Biden — it rebounded to their detriment that they went after Biden so much. Because it also looked like they were not just going after Biden, but they were going after the Obama legacy,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which is neutral in the primaries.
Weingarten said many Democrats left the June debate thinking, “Kamala seems really feisty and let’s look at her.” But in the July debate they were turned off by Harris and other aggressors because “it looked like they were burning the house down, as opposed to building on what Democrats believe in.”
The report also quoted some California voters as viewing Harris as a convenient flip-flopper:
“Too flippy-floppy. I just don’t like her,” said Debby Fisher of Richmond, California — near Harris’s hometown of Oakland — who plans to support Sanders.
Suzanne Cowan of San Francisco said she soured on Harris after her change on health care.
“That’s not my kind of candidate. Either you know what issues you support and you have the courage to stand up for them or you don’t,” she said. “For me she’s ‘I’ll be in favor of whatever is trending’ — and that doesn’t cut it.”
With the next debate just a week away, look for Harris to pull out all the stops. She may try by attacking the frontrunners in an attempt to recapture some of the positive headlines and post-debate glory she enjoyed for a short time after the first round.
If she fails to do so, the fourth debate in October will see her viewed as auditioning for a vice presidential nod by that point.
Gabbard, by the way, has a realistic chance of qualifying for that one according to CBS News:
At least two candidates were on the brink of qualifying for the third debate and have a good chance of meeting the thresholds for the fourth. Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard and billionaire Tom Steyer have met the donor threshold but not the polling threshold.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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