That’s the line being peddled by some on the identity politics left. Harris herself seems to favor the theory.
The last two Democratic nominees were, respectively, a black and a female. Clearly, then, Harris didn’t fail because she’s black and she didn’t fail because she’s a woman.
But was the combination of these two identities two much for Democrats to stomach? To make that argument, one must explain Harris’s strong showing in the polls after the first round of Democratic debates.
Harris was a black female in July, when she soared from the second tier into the first. If Democrats had an aversion to women of color, she wouldn’t have joined the top tier.
Consider, also, the three candidates she joined there. One was the former Vice President of the United States. One was the runner-up for the nomination in 2016, who only narrowly was edged by Hillary Clinton. The third was the leader of her party’s left wing, who has been a prominent member of the Senate since 2013.
Harris, who has been in the Senate for less than three years, is a minnow compared to these three. What distinguished her from them was less her race/gender than her lack of accomplishments. If anything, her race, along with her age, probably was an asset.
We also know that Harris never caught on with African-American voters. Surely, this cohort did not reject her due to race, and there is no evidence that it did so because of her gender. Black voters solidly favored Clinton over Sanders in 2016. They were a key reason why she edged the Vermont socialist.
Last night on Tucker Carlson’s show, Quentin James, an African-American operative, argued that black voters were standoffish on Harris because they didn’t think white voters would accept her, and therefore doubted she could defeat President Trump. The suggestion that black voters take their cues from white voters seems somewhat demeaning to blacks.
More importantly, James was unable to provide any polling data to support his theory. In fact, polls cut against his theory.
First, Harris ran ahead of Trump in the head-to-head matchup. This remained true even after her sharp decline in Democratic preference polls. Thus, there was no reason for black voters to assume that whites wouldn’t support her against Trump.
Second, in July Harris was polling well among white Democrats in relation to her fellow contenders for the nomination. Again, blacks had no basis for believing she had a problem with white voters.
Black voters prefer Joe Biden to Kamala Harris for the same reason they prefer him to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. He’s a known quantity with a decades-long record of supporting measures that most blacks favor. Plus, he was Barack Obama’s vice president.
The Democrats are ready to nominate a black female for president, but aren’t ready to nominate Kamala Harris. Who can blame them?