HomeLearning CenterDespite Poor Polling Numbers, Kamala Harris Viewed as Key for Democrats in 2024

Despite Poor Polling Numbers, Kamala Harris Viewed as Key for Democrats in 2024

Originally Published by Jennifer Shutt for Georgia Recorder

Vice President Kamala Harris’ poll numbers have stagnated at a lower level than many of her predecessors’ ratings, a daunting problem for a running mate as the 2024 presidential campaign gets underway.

Professors and political experts interviewed by States Newsroom say there are several reasons why Harris’ favorability numbers sagged after she took office. She is tied to President Joe Biden and he’s not especially popular at the moment. She’s the first woman and person of color to hold the role. Assigned intractable national issues like illegal immigration, she has been heavily criticized by Republicans for not producing solutions. And like any vice president, she can’t overshadow the president.

Experts interviewed also contend that nationwide favorability polling isn’t an especially important predictor of who voters will choose when they head to the polls in 16 months. They did argue that Harris, however she may be perceived, will play a more prominent role in the campaign than other vice presidents — due in part to Biden’s age. Now 80, he would be 86 at the end of a second term.

“As in 2008, when there were concerns about John McCain’s health, people will look at the vice presidential candidate and see whether or not they’re ready for prime time,” said Andra Gillespie, associate professor of political science at Emory University. “And the problem with Sarah Palin in 2008 was that she didn’t look like she was ready for prime time. People are going to ask the same questions about Vice President Harris.”

Jonathan K. Hanson, a political science professor and statistics lecturer at the University of Michigan, also said Biden’s age might lead voters to consider Harris more critically than they have other running mates in recent history.

“If we’re really looking at Biden’s strengths and weaknesses, his age has got to be one of the biggest areas of vulnerability. We’re not used to having the president quite this old,” Hanson said.

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