With Vice President Kamala Harris coming up short in one favorability poll after another—including an NBC survey last week which found she has the lowest ratings since Al Gore in 1993—even the people who want to see her succeed worry that it just might not be doable.
The Los Angeles Times spoke to voters in Democratic bastion Philadelphia as well as the key swing area of Bucks County—which went for Biden/Harris by a slim margin with roughly 82 percent of voters casting ballots—about the former Senator from California’s performance as Veep, and Harris’s detractors and fans said much the same things: namely, that they don’t see a lot of her; that Biden has stuck her with a miserable To Do list; and that racism and misogyny will remain formidable hurtles.
New Hope, Pennsylvania, retiree Susan Giffen, 69, told the Times that Harris would make a good President but, asked if she’d ever actually get elected to the job, said, “Absolutely not. I’d vote for her. But I don’t think she can win. And I wouldn’t vote for her in a primary.”
Four men, who were not identified by party, voiced the sentiment that could dash future election hopes for Harris, with two saying straight out that a woman should never be president, while another noted that she “cackles” too much, and a third calling Harris “a joke” and a “trophy.”
Such attitudes could also help explain why, on average, 49 percent of voters have a negative view of Harris while just 43 percent have generally positive feelings about her, which puts her about 10 points behind Biden. But it doesn’t explain everything.
“I can’t think anything of her because she hasn’t done anything,” said Trump voter Adam Osborn, 45. “She’s not in the news in a way that portrays her positively, and she’s not in the news period. She’s in the shadows of the administration.”
Perhaps Harris’s most unfortunate news moment so far came in June, when Biden dispatched her to Guatemala to look into the “root causes” of the immigration crisis and she failed to solve it, culminating with a heated response when Lester Holt asked why she hadn’t been to the border yet.
Former Obama White House advisor David Axlerod saw it as a no-win situation, explaining in July, “Just in terms of the public-facing stuff, it hasn’t been a stellar six months. You have limited opportunities to play the featured actor. Mostly, you’re playing a supporting role. So if something goes wrong during those limited opportunities, they are magnified.”
Conversely, Biden’s successes shine no light at all on Harris for some voters.
“I’ll give Biden credit for the things Biden’s done,” Biden/Harris voter Popsy Robinson, 71, told the paper. “Biden’s been around a long time.”
Some voters, like Philadelphia administrative assistant Edwina Thompson, a Black woman who declined to give her age, think that while racism and sexism are making Harris’s problems much worse than they’d be for a white man, she also isn’t doing herself many favors.
“She’s got her act together, but sometimes when she says things, it comes across a bit abrasive and maybe too aggressive,” Thompson said. “That is a stereotype that this country has about Black women and I think it freaks out white people. So if she attacks anybody, it is blown out of proportion. She’s very smart. She knows what she’s doing. But she probably needs someone to coach her.”
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