Important Politics: Why Kamala Harris will likely be hitting the marketing campaign path

When Vice President Kamala Harris canceled her rally for Governor Gavin Newsom’s anti-recall campaign on Friday, the political world missed a preview of what was likely to be a busy year.

Harris’ advisors say she plans to campaign frequently in 2022 on behalf of Democrats attempting to maintain their thin leaderships in the House and Senate.

Good morning and welcome to Essential Politics: the Kamala Harris edition. This week, I’ll be discussing Harris’ expected role in the midterm elections and why her advisors believe her poor poll results won’t affect her ability to raise money and generate enthusiasm for the campaign.


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The Newsom Factor

Harris had no choice but to cancel Friday’s rally for Newsom shortly after learning that 13 American soldiers and dozen of Afghans were killed in a terrorist attack in Kabul. Harris’ team has not stated whether the event will be postponed before the September 14 recall date, but there is no doubt that the Vice President thinks the recall is a big deal for a number of reasons.

First, Harris and Newsom share California connections and political foundations (she represented the state in the U.S. Senate), roots in San Francisco (she was the city’s district attorney), and have overlapping political advisers. Second, Harris understands that a Newsom defeat in one of the most democratic states in the nation – and the most populous – would be a severe psychological blow to their party.

Third, an adviser to Harris told me that White House officials were concerned that if Newsom were recalled, a Republican governor would have the power to occupy the seat of Senator Dianne Feinstein, the 88-year-old Democrat of San Francisco. when she retires or falls ill.

Such a move would give Republicans a 51-49 majority in the Senate. The Democrats only control the 50-50 body because Harris can cast a vote.

Republican scrutiny would all but ruin the Biden administration’s legislative agenda, jeopardize court nominations, and make it harder to win back the Senate.

It is this type of scenario that is reminding Democrats that they have very small majorities in Congress and adding to the pressure on Harris to vote in California and across the country in November 2022.

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A robust campaign plan

Which brings us back to Harris. Your advisors don’t have an agenda for you in 2022 yet, but promise a robust one. That’s because the House of Representatives, in which the Democrats have a majority of 220-212, could also take control of the Republicans.

History is on the Republican side because the incumbent president’s party typically lost seats in Congress in mid-term elections.

Right now, Biden and Harris plan to run a version of the 2018 midterm elections that touted the healthcare and business sectors while warning that Republican victories would jeopardize their agenda. Strategy could change depending on national and global events and unique political factors that crop up in the House and Senate races.

Much will depend on the president’s popularity. Biden’s performance has declined in recent polls, with around 47% of voters approving his performance and just under 49% disapproving, according to the Real Clear Politics average.

I was in Pennsylvania last week to speak to voters and there is some evidence that the chaotic exit from Afghanistan may not be the driving factor behind Biden’s falling popularity. My evidence is anecdotal, of course, and the conversations took place before the American soldiers were killed. But several voters told me that they believed Biden had a tough hand and that it was important to get out of the two-decade war.

“He was very busy,” said Richard Zirpoli, 68, owner of a tutoring company in Bucks County, Pennsylvania who voted for former President Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020. “The whole war was a great catastrophe. I mean, we fought the wrong battles. “

Some polls suggest that Biden’s declining popularity may be driven by the resurgence of coronavirus cases, which could pose a bigger political problem for Biden and Harris. As my colleague David Lauter wrote last week, even when it comes to tragedy, foreign affairs do not drive public opinion.

According to an analysis of the Times poll data, the poll is even worse for Harris, who is rated negatively by an average of 49% of voters, compared with 43% who give her a positive rating.

The hits on Harris’ numbers came from a variety of places, some surprising. Only 36% of voters under 30 agree, compared to 49% who disagree, according to YouGov. That’s a steady decline from earlier this year, when it received the approval of a large number of younger voters.

You can read more about what individual Pennsylvania voters said about Harris, including those who told me on record they didn’t want a woman president in the story I wrote.

One Harris adviser expressed confidence in Harris’ ability to advocate for other Democrats.

The counselor noted Harris’ success in raising campaign funds and the number of inquiries she had received from local candidates and parties. Data from the Democratic National Committee shows she ranks second after Biden for fundraising through email and social media, and has the ability to connect with 73 million people on such platforms. She raised $ 2.3 million in her first three speeches for the DNC that year and was well received when she campaigned for two crucial Senate elections in Georgia in January that put the Democrat in control of the Senate.

Former Vice President Mike Pence had similar polls at this point in his tenure and was widely viewed as a valuable replacement. He was often used for groups in his sweet spot, including Evangelicals and Business Republicans.

Harris can be used in a similar way. But modern elections are based on the turnout of core supporters. So there are arguments that it can help maintain the voice in highly competitive states like Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, and North Carolina.

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The latest on Afghanistan

– In a speech on Tuesday, Biden described the evacuation from Afghanistan as an “extraordinary success” despite the fact that dozens of Americans and thousands of Afghan allies were left behind, says Chris Megerian. Biden defended his decision to withdraw US troops from the conflict.

– From Nabih Bulos and Laura King: With the roar of a US military cargo plane, the last US troops left the country at almost midnight on Monday, ending America’s longest war and leaving permanent but distinct wounds that cut two nations.

– Days after a suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. soldiers, Biden went to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to meet with the grieving families who lost sons and daughters in America’s longest war days before the planned end, writes Chris Megerian.

Editor’s note: Friday’s edition of the newsletter referred to bomb attacks in Afghanistan. Shortly after we shipped it, the Pentagon said it determined there had only been one suicide bomber and a single explosion – not two explosions as it first reported.

The view from California

– In his struggle to keep his political life afloat, Newsom has bet his future on how well he can emulate a budget-conscious tea party darling: former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Melanie Mason reports that he is the only governor in American history who has successfully repulsed a recall.

– Speaking of recall: withdrawal or in person? Madalyn Amato says where to vote in the election.

With the recall election less than two weeks away, postal ballot results so far show that more than twice as many Democrats have voted as Republicans and that liberal areas of the state like the Bay Area have the highest response rates, writes Mason and Seema Mehta.

– Democratic lawmakers have dropped a controversial proposal to mandate vaccines in the state, a move that would have been difficult to pass in the last few weeks of the legislature, report Melody Gutierrez and Taryn Luna.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the most out of the Times’ coverage of state politics, including full coverage of the recall election and the latest action in Sacramento.

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