Kamala Harris Tops Washington Post and CNN Joe Biden Veepstakes Lists — and CNN Poll Shows Why They’re Right
Senator Kamala Harris has landed at the top of the Joe Biden veepstakes on a pair of recent lists — by analysts from CNN and The Washington Post — and a new CNN poll provides powerful support for their analyses.
Just as soon as Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic presidential race, discussion of the former VP’s future VP ramped up in earnest. The Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake put out a Top 11 list that consisted of Susan Rice, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Stacey Abrams, Tammy Duckworth, Val Demings, Catherine Cortez Masto, Tammy Baldwin, Elizabeth Warren, Gretchen Whitmer, Amy Klobuchar, and Harris in the top spot.
In making the case for Harris, Blake wrote “There’s a reason Harris tops many of these lists: She’s perhaps the most logical choice. She’s the only black woman serving as either a governor or senator right now. Her presidential campaign flamed out after an early surge, and given her background as a prosecutor, it is easy to see her playing the traditional VP role of attacking the opposition.”
Harris actually experienced two significant polling surges, one following her campaign launch and another in July, before ending her campaign in December.
CNN political analyst Chris Cillizza put out his own Top 10 list, which was identical in composition to Blake’s with the exception of Rice, but with different rankings. Kamala Harris topped Cillizza’s list as well. Cillizza included some overlooked hints from Biden at an event Wednesday:
At a virtual fundraiser Wednesday, Biden praised the California senator for running a “helluva race” for president and adding: “I’m so lucky to have you be a part of this partnership going forward. Working together, we can make a great deal of progress. … I’m coming for you, kid.” Eyebrows raised! Harris checks all the boxes for Biden — an African American and Indian American woman from a huge Democratic (and donor) state who proved herself to be an able debater during her own run for president.
Kamala Harris also topped a mid-March list from Bill Scher at Politico, writing that “Biden’s vice presidential nominee would be most useful politically by shoring up his support among culturally liberal young voters eager to elect a woman of color in 2024. That’s why, of all the qualified women of color on the short list, the obvious choice was, and remains, Kamala Harris.”
All three influential analysts were unequivocal that this is not a close call.
Their analyses rely on solid logic — Scher and Blake point out that selecting Warren would be a mistake because, among other things, it would leave her Senate seat to be filled by a Republican governor, and Scher wisely points out that arguments for other picks delivering a crucial home state are not supported by facts — and well-founded matters of opinion, like Harris’ toughness and status as a historic candidate.
But if you don’t trust logic and reasoned opinion, consider what the data says.
A. In a CNN poll released Thursday, Biden beat President Donald Trump by eleven points nationwide 53%-42%, and enjoys a yawning 19-point advantage on “Helping the middle class.”
What does that tell us? There are areas of potential improvement that we’ll get to in a minute, but an 11 point lead and — perhaps even more significantly — a solid majority above the 50 percent mark say that Biden is in pretty decent shape right now. Whatever he does to try and improve, he should also be sure to do no harm.
B. As Cillizza pointed out in his analysis of that poll, there’s a significant enthusiasm gap — 74 percent of Republicans are “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic about voting in November, versus 56 percent of Democrats.
While Cillizza oversells this as a “silver lining”for Trump in a poll that shows him getting absolutely crushed, he also astutely notes that some of that gap will dissipate naturally as Biden’s status as presumptive nominee sinks in with supporters of other candidates. Which brings me to…
C. In a recent Fox News poll, 63 percent of voters nationwide approved of Biden’s pledge to select a woman, including 86 percent of Democrats.
Those numbers strongly indicate that once Biden names an actual woman as his running mate, enthusiasm for the ticket stands to increase dramatically. The poll also showed little difference in performance (within 2 points) between a Biden/Harris ticket, a Warren ticket, and a Klobuchar ticket, all of which defeated a ticket of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Warren has very dedicated followers who would certainly be energized by a Biden/Warren ticket, but his failure to select her doesn’t seem likely to alienate those supporters. Protecting that Senate seat is a solid enough reason, and Biden’s policy overtures since she dropped out could help shore up her supporters. Klobuchar’s supporters aren’t likely to go anywhere either, since her politics so closely match Biden’s. All things being equal…
D. That CNN poll also shows a significant enthusiasm gap between white voters (58%) and non-white voters (35%).
As Joe Biden proved in the primary, a Democrat can’t win without huge support from black voters. While CNN didn’t cross-tab black voters specifically, this gap is concerning because he doesn’t just need to win the greatest share of black voters against Trump, he needs them to turn out the way they did for Obama.
E. In the only national poll of just black voters this cycle, more than a quarter — 27 percent — said that a black VP choice was “important.”
If it’s not a safe enough bet that selecting Kamala Harris will energize Democrats in general and black voters in particular, this poll demonstrates the potentially devastating consequences of selecting a running mate who isn’t black.
Biden probably doesn’t need to hear any of this, but media figures whipping support for other running mates just might need to. Whatever your opinion, the data clearly shows that Kamala Harris is the best choice to propel Democrats to victory over Trump.
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