What’s with Kamala’s Big Dip in the Polls?

Conservatives think it was a Medicare for All waffle, but other factors may be at play

After Senator Kamala Harris thrashed Joe Biden in the first Democratic primary debate back in June, her numbers soared, putting her at second place with 17 percent in a CNN poll, compared to Biden’s 22 percent. But according to the network’s most recent poll of Democratic-leaning independent registered voters—conducted from August 15 to 18—only five percent declared support for Harris, which means she’s in a tie for fourth place with Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Biden, on the other hand, shot to 29 percent.

Well, how did she get here? Depends on who you ask.

Her harshest critics say the very things that won her that first debate have cost her. She famously rebuked Biden for opposing busing early in his career. “Busing policies were abandoned because they were wildly unpopular, and there’s no reason to think they’ve magically become popular. So Harris equivocated and then backtracked,” says the National Review. The conservative magazine also believes Harris hurt herself by “waffling” on Medicare for All when she later said that people would able to purchase supplemental insurance after private insurance was eliminated.

A more moderate view would be that Harris simply hasn’t been able to maintain her debate bump, or to keep the attention of would-be voters amid the din.

According to CNN’s own analysis, “When asked which candidates they’d like to hear more about, 30 percent said Harris in late June. That was more than any other candidate. Now, only 18 percent say they want to hear more about Harris. That’s slightly behind Elizabeth Warren, who clocked in at 20 percent.”

In fact, voter curiosity has waned for almost all the candidates after two debates and relentless media coverage. Cory Booker experienced a slide from 17 to 10 percent; Pete Buttigieg went from 23 to 13 percent; Castro went from 16 to 5 percent; Warren went from 24 to 20 percent; and Kamala went from 30 percent all the way down to 18 percent.

Still, this early, numbers don’t necessarily mean much. Harris, who’s been upending expectations throughout her career is likely to keep surprising the number-crunchers.

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