Oct 3, 2019

Kamala Harris could lose her home state

Sen. Kamala Harris takes a selfie on the campaign trail. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In a crowded 2020 race, Sen. Kamala Harris' consistency in national polls is impressive as a top 5 Democratic candidate, but her placement among voters is still mismatched, Molly Ball writes for the latest TIME magazine cover story.

“People like Harris too; they just can’t quite place her. Like the acquaintance you recognize but can’t recall how you met, she seems both familiar and yet mysterious. Is she a liberal or a moderate, establishment or populist, reformer or radical?”

The state of play: Harris' polling numbers in her home state of California have been woeful, with the junior senator falling way behind candidates Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who are consistently polling around at least 20% each.

  • Harris, meanwhile, is at about 8%, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll that had her at 19% in July.
  • "Harris’ message has been muddled and her agenda unclear," writes Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton, who has covered politics and government for more than 50 years. "That shouldn’t be a surprise given her unremarkable record as state attorney general. She was overly cautious."

The big picture: Critics say Harris is sometimes elusive in her policy plans, but her supporters picture her taking on President Trump on the national debate stage with "her icy prosecutor’s glare," per TIME.

  • "This guy has completely trampled on the rule of law, avoided consequence and accountability under law," Harris told TIME when asked about Trump. "For all the sh-t people give me for being a prosecutor, listen. I believe there should be accountability and consequence."

Harris fired a few successful shots at Joe Biden during the first debate over his opposition to federally mandated busing in the '70s, but has yet to follow up with any plan or position of her own.

  • Her tendency to prioritize pragmatism over sweeping ideas has caused her to lose out on activist support, while she has at the same time positioned herself too far left for most moderates, Time reports.

The bottom line, per Molly Ball: "Campaigning to fix what keeps people up at night, she might just cure America’s insomnia by putting us to sleep with platitudes."

Go deeper: Kamala Harris' campaign says it raised $11.6 million in Q3

Go deeper

Kamala Harris will lay off dozens of campaign staffers

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris — who has largely held on as a top-tier polling candidate after standing out in 2020 debates — is laying off dozens of her campaign aides as her campaign manager cuts his own salary, Axios has confirmed.

The big picture, via Axios' Alexi McCammond: Harris is not the only candidate facing a cash crunch with more staffers than she can probably afford, but these layoffs are not a good sign for someone polling in the top five.

Go deeperArrowOct 30, 2019

Kamala Harris: "Of course" it's different to run for president as a black woman

Kamala Harris says running for president as a woman of color in the 2020 election is different than running as a black man or as a white woman and that the question of electability has emerged as "the elephant in the room about my campaign."

Why it matters: In an interview with "Axios on HBO," the California senator, stuck around 5th place in Democratic presidential primary polls, says there’s still time to regain momentum to crack the top three in the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3. She was mostly guarded in her remarks, but spoke more spontaneously on questions about race and her law-and-order background.

Go deeperArrowOct 27, 2019

Kamala Harris defends her evolution on Medicare for All

In an interview with Margaret Talev for "Axios on HBO," 2020 contender Sen. Kamala Harris justified her position on Medicare for All, claiming that her plan allowing private insurance to still compete makes the measure better.

The big picture: Harris had originally been a backer of Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All plan, which would abolish private insurance. Harris later changed to allow a government-run system, but with private insurance as a competitor.

Go deeperArrowOct 27, 2019