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Jul 3, 2024, 4:36pm EDT
North America
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Semafor Signals

As voters cool on Biden, Kamala Harris’ name is everywhere

Insights from The Washington Post, NBC News, and The Atlantic

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Kamala Harris
Brendan McDermid/Reuters
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The News

Since Biden’s diminished debate performance last week, more polls have emerged that show Donald Trump’s lead over Biden has expanded.

In two polls released Wednesday, one by The New York Times/Sienna and the other by The Wall Street Journal, Trump is firmly ahead by several points.

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The polls also show that voters believe Biden is too old. As his support has become increasingly perilous, Vice President Kamala Harris has emerged as perhaps the most likely candidate to replace him if he were to drop out of the presidential race.

Harris has strongly defended Biden, but several senior Democratic sources told Reuters that she was the number one alternative. Donors, meanwhile, are exchanging text messages and phone calls about what her campaign would look like should Biden bow out, CNBC reported.

House Democrat Summer Lee described Harris as the “obvious choice,” a sentiment longtime Biden ally Rep. James E. Clyburn has echoed — if Biden drops out.

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In a CNN poll conducted after the debate, Harris performed better than Biden in a match-up against Trump.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Harris loudly defends Biden, even as momentum behind her grows

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Source:  
Los Angeles Times

Harris has been among Biden’s most vocal supporters, appearing on CNN within minutes of the debate’s end to voice her support for the President and his reelection campaign. A former Harris aide told Semafor’s Morgan Chalfant that she is laser-focused on defending Biden amid the debate drama. But while Harris is publicly staying the course and backing Biden, “if the ground keeps shifting… inevitably she’s going to be put in a position of potentially having to make a decision or maybe a decision being made for her” over her next moves, a former advisor told the Los Angeles Times.

As VP, Harris is already on the ticket, a key advantage

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Sources:  
NBC News, The Washington Post, The Hill

As Biden’s VP, Harris has an advantage over any other potential nominees. Most of the Biden campaign’s war chest would go directly to Harris if he steps down, NBC News reported — money that would otherwise be difficult to transfer if the party coalesced around a candidate not already on the ticket. Harris’ supporters also contend that she is the only potential replacement who has been tested on the national stage. “Everybody is familiar with the vice president’s flaws. They’re not as familiar with the flaws of the other candidates,” Harris’s former communications director told The Hill.

Harris has faced the lowest approval ratings of any VP on record

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Sources:  
NBC News, The Atlantic, Politico

Even so, Harris has a spotty record, and has, at a time, had the lowest approval ratings of any vice president in the history of NBC News polling. Her first year on the job was defined by “rhetorical blunders, staff turnover, political missteps, and a poor sense… of what, exactly constitutes her portfolio,” as a profile in The Atlantic put it. Harris’ allies have pushed back on this narrative, arguing she was handed a poisoned chalice when she became the administration’s point person on immigration and the migrant crisis. But since then, Harris has gradually taken on a more prominent role in the reelection campaign and policy making, taking the lead on abortion rights and making major speeches on the Gaza war. Ultimately, Democrats believe she has found her footing.

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