Illustration by Andrea Nebhut
Since I last wrote about the race for the White House, a few things haven’t changed. We still have a large, crowded field of Democrats running for the chance to take on the Republican nominee competing in muddled debate after muddled debate. It is truly remarkable, what started out at 28 presidential candidates has dwindled down to a meager, 17, then back up to 18, maybe 19 now depending on what former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg decides. For the sake of consistency and my mental health, let’s just consider it 18.
Each of the 18 candidates left in the race insists that they see a clear path forward for themselves to win the nomination, but for a large number of them, this path isn’t so clear. Despite the realities of who we have in the office today, not just anyone can be president. We are less than 100 days from the Iowa caucuses, and we really need to get it together. These candidates seriously need to come to terms with reality as Beto O’Rourke recently did when he thankfully suspended his campaign.
The whole point of the Democratic primary race is to test run each candidate’s skill at uniting voters and to test their formula for the perfect winning coalition. So far the only people in the race doing a decent enough job are Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, with Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg showing some promise. However, there are also those like Kamala Harris who have yet to succeed in broadening their coalition and have fallen behind considerably in the polls.
Kamala Harris’s campaign is careening toward what looks like its inevitable capsizing. Her campaign recently laid off several dozen staff members as part of a reorganization effort to “restructure” and “focus on the Iowa caucuses.” The campaign’s struggles prompted several aides to anonymously complain about internal strife, and when asked about her candidacy’s lackluster performance, Harris wondered if “America was ready for a woman and a woman of color to be president of the United States of America.” I can assure you that her difficulties are in large part not due to her race or her gender. According to hypothetical polling, Michelle Obama would be leading the field and beating all other candidates if she chose to run; furthermore, it is fairly clear that it is a woman, Elizabeth Warren, who has captured the most momentum in this race thus far.
Kamala Harris’s recent troubles are in fact due to her own shortcomings as a candidate and as a campaigner, nothing else. The sooner she realizes that, the sooner she can do what she needs to do and drop out and focus on her work as a senator. In my opinion, it all went downhill for her when she chose to take a cheap shot at former vice president Joe Biden in the first democratic debate. Which interestingly enough is around the same time her support began to fall. On stage, she implied that the vice president was racist and accused him of being on the wrong side of history during his career as a senator. That moment helped her in the short run for campaign fundraising; however, it ended up hurting her numbers among Black voters.
At first glance, it seems unfortunate and sudden that she should be the one to drop out, given that during the early period of the primary, she appeared to have potential, but she has been on a speedy decline since the campaign hit into full swing. Kamala Harris has not risen significantly in the polls since July; instead, her numbers have plummeted from her peak in second place with 15 percent support nationally during the summer, to its current levels at 4 percent in fifth place.
While Andrew Yang is polling about the same as her, he at least exhibits the ability to excite and energize voters around new ideas (many of which I personally view as frivolous and disagreeable, but I digress.) The point is that he is a solid campaigner, and Kamala Harris is struggling at that. Her team has definitely not helped either. As her campaign announced dozens of layoffs and re-deployments in late October to stem overspending, Politico added that there were several staffers at her headquarters that were let go and quit. While Senator Harris continues to campaign in Iowa trying to revive her faltering and fast-shrinking bid for the presidency, her aides have engaged deep into pre-mortem post-mortem finger-pointing.
All in all, the reasons why Kamala Harris needs to drop out now is because she is straight-up losing this race and clearly has flaws as a candidate — from her contradictory and confusing stance on healthcare to her questionable record as a prosecutor in which she was on the wrong side of history. She is not who Democrats want to be our nominee, and so she should drop out.