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

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Updated 27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 19,792,519— Total deaths: 730,089 — Total recoveries — 12,060,877Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 5,044,821 — Total deaths: 162,938 — Total recoveries: 1,656,864 — Total tests: 61,792,571Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says states don't have the funds to comply with Trump's executive order on unemployment — Mnuchin says Trump executive orders were cleared by Justice Department.
  4. States: New York reports lowest rate of positive coronavirus test results since pandemic began
  5. Public health: Ex-FDA head: U.S. will "definitely" see 200,000 to 300,000 virus deaths by end of 2020. 
  6. Schools: 97,000 children test positive for coronavirus in two weeks — Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo showing packed hallway went viral .

97,000 children test positive for coronavirus in two weeks

A boy has his temperature checked as he receives a free COVID-19 test in South Los Angeles in July. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

At least 97,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 in the final two weeks of July and there's been an estimated 338,000 cases involving kids in the U.S. since the pandemic began, a new report finds.

Why it matters: The findings in the report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association comes as schools and day cares look to reopen in the U.S., with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announcing Friday that school districts in the state can reopen in the fall amid lower coronavirus transmission rates.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai at the Next Digital offices in Hong Kong in June. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai has been arrested for "collusion with foreign powers," said Mark Simon, an executive at the tycoon's media firm Next Digital Monday morning local time.

Why it matters: He was arrested under the new national security law that gives Beijing more powers over the former British colony. Lai is the most prominent person arrested under the law, which prompted the U.S. to sanction Chinese officials, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, over Beijing's efforts to strip the territory of its autonomy.