Tag Archives: Kamala Harris

Trump Has Already Moved Our Norms on Candidates of Color

Sen. Kamala Harris: a prosecutor with legal expertise that the American people badly needed to hear out. Primary voters were convinced that expertise was something to be distrusted and even fought. She was posed as an integral and ingrained part of a national Democratic machine despite only having been in national politics for three years. She’s harshly criticized Democratic concessions to Republicans for years, yet she was posed as a centrist. She’s the 5th most progressive vote in the Senate (using ProgressivePunch’s metrics), ahead of even Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Secy. Julian Castro: focused on housing, infrastructure, and medical access – especially for rural communities. He highlighted abuses in the immigration system, ways that for-profit companies are committing human rights abuses and stealing money from immigrant and citizen alike. He stood up for trans people when others wouldn’t speak their names. Primary voters were convinced that he couldn’t speak to the very daily needs he was the only one to offer policy on. He was posed as part of a national Democratic machine, despite being one of the most contentious members of Obama’s cabinet, and despite being a lifelong Chicano activist and leader in a front that’s done more to pull Democratic politics leftward in Texas and the Southwest than any other group.

Sen. Cory Booker: one of the few candidates who’s actually done something heroic when he rescued a woman from a fire, and who has a history of pressuring Republicans onto civil rights policy. He was posed as part of a national Democratic machine because he voted against a pharmaceutical bill – nevermind voting for a version of the bill that disallowed loopholes and had teeth. He’s the 7th most progressive vote in the Senate, ahead of even Bernie Sanders.

Former V.P. Joe Biden’s leading the Democratic primary polls, while saying he might nominate a Republican as vice president, and that Republicans will work with him after they successfully defeated his attempts at getting them to work with the Obama administration for 8 years solid – including most famously on the Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination.

Sanders is second, despite having failed to provide transparency on his medical records as he promised, despite having failed to provide transparency on his financial records as he’s promised for the last four years, and despite Our Revolution being in violation of campaign finance law on behalf of his campaign as reported by the AP News.

We’re told Sanders is more progressive than these “centrists” despite Harris and Booker having more progressive voting records than he has (Castro was a member of the Cabinet, and so doesn’t have a voting record.)

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is mayor of the country’s 301st biggest city, has no major successes in that city to speak of, has a major issue with racism in his police force that even he’s admitted he’s failed to address, and he’s fourth in polling.

I want to stop here and highlight something: we’re told Sanders is new despite his being involved in national politics for 30 years, whereas Booker (7 years), Castro (3 years), and Harris (3 years) are magically ingrained despite having just entered. We’re also told Booker, Castro, and Harris aren’t experienced enough while the mayor of the 301st biggest city in the U.S. is lauded, admired, and treated as a very serious candidate. That all’s some bullshit.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is solidifying his spot as 5th candidate and could overtake Buttigieg’s polling aggregate soon. He has commercials, but no particular policy.

Tom Steyer overtook Booker in polling before Booker dropped out, despite offering a fraction of the policy.

The only candidates of color left in the race are Andrew Yang, a businessman with no governance experience who regularly makes and permits racist jokes about himself, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who joins Trump in chiefly running a campaign against Hillary Clinton.

The only candidate I can consider voting for in the primary at this point is Sen. Elizabeth Warren. She’s the second most progressive vote in the Senate. She has more vetted, specific policy than the rest of the remaining candidates put together. Her biggest issue is an assumption of indigenous heritage that she at first addressed messily and wrongly…and then worked to amend by putting native voices first and foremost. Whether that’s satisfactory isn’t mine to decide, but I know it’s more than other candidates have done to address their accountability on issues that are directly policy-related.

Each of the Democratic candidates is about as electable as the next, with the key metric for an advantage being turnout among our base. I do think Trump’s strategy (given that it’s been his only strategy for four years running) will be to make the other candidate look as bad as he does. I can’t believe our candidate will be able to hold Trump accountable before the nation’s eyes if they can’t hold themselves accountable first, and Warren by far comes the closest to doing that on a reliable basis.

(I haven’t forgotten about other candidates past and present who I haven’t mentioned, this just goes on long enough by this point. Sen. Klobuchar’s fine, for instance, but she’s the 28th most progressive vote in the Senate, and her platform reflects this.)

I’ll vote for any of them against Trump. I’ll support whoever wins the Democratic nomination, and I’ll work to get whoever wins the nomination elected.

My point here is about how much our norms have already been moved. Part of guarding our norms is recognizing when we’ve failed to do so. Well regarded, qualified candidates of color can be lied about, disqualified according to double standards, and have these narratives taken as truth while white candidates can shift their politics by the week and face no accountability for it. Our norms have been shifted backwards, and we have to admit and acknowledge this. Perhaps it was a norm we only briefly escaped, given that it’s been the norm on which this country has operated for centuries. But it is a norm impacted by Trump, it is a norm some of our own white candidates feel too comfortable reinforcing and taking advantage of, and it’s a norm we have to take the fuck back before it gets anchored into a relentlessly ugly place.

Even just strategically, if you make it impossible for candidates of color to get elected, you’ve cut out maybe 5% of Republicans’ talent pool, while cutting out about 50% of our own. You cannot win that way. You cannot be surprised when you lose that way. You cannot compete in a reliable way that way, certainly not in thousands of races up and down the ballot.

Let’s Start Pretending to Know Where Kamala Harris Supporters Will Go

Theoretically, Sen. Kamala Harris dropping out of the Democratic primary is great for Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former V.P. Joe Biden. This is because they’re polled as the two biggest second-choices for Harris supporters. It’s bad for Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who lag behind in these polls.

I say theoretically because this is all based on polling. Polling is accurate within a certain range, but it is incredibly misunderstood. Polls are often treated in the media as predictions of what people are going to do. They’re not. They’re snapshots of how people respond to specific questions. These indicate how respondents say they feel about a question at that moment in time. That’s it. That can be valuable, but not when the results are misapplied.

What’s more, this form of “second choice” polling doesn’t have a lot of history for the purposes of comparison. It’s done sparingly and irregularly, and there’s not a broad historical reference to be able to assess pollsters’ different approaches for accuracy. This also means we don’t have a great record to understand how second choices evolve over time.

Most importantly, Harris had her best numbers among Black and Latinx voters. That means the best chance for a specific impact is one that will go unseen and unrecognized. Polling of Black and Latinx communities is generally not focused on despite the fact they’re core to the Democratic base.

You may read that Harris’s voters are likely to go hither and thither, but the reality is that no one really has the information or polling to determine this. Any theory someone comes up with is one they’ll never have to provide a burden of proof to support. There won’t be enough information about the voters who prefer Harris to compare it to.

A lot of claims will be made about who her voters like or don’t like. They will all be based on opinion or – at best – cherry-picked polling information without any kind of real aggregation. These claims are going to teach really bad lessons about how to read polls. They’re going to rely on speaking for Black and Latinx voters without having the snapshots recorded about what Black and Latinx voters actually want.

Many of these claims will want clicks from fans of whichever candidate they say Kamala Harris supporters really, super-secretly liked that only this or that writer knows and can tell you. These will just reinforce bias about who the readers clicking already prefer. Many of these stories will seek to drive a narrative in order to sway Kamala Harris supporters over to their candidate.

Prepare for nearly every candidate to suddenly be Kamala Harris’s best friend and the natural recipient of her supporters. The media may only start to treat Harris as an important and legitimate candidate now that she’s dropped out and her narrative can be hijacked.

That may seem like a lot of effort for someone who was only polling at 4% nationwide, but it’s about where her better polling was concentrated. Ten-percent of California primary voters alone is worth that effort, let alone her decent polling in the rest of the Southwest and the South. That includes states that are early in the primary process, such as Nevada and South Carolina.

The truth is no one will really know who Kamala Harris supporters choose now that she’s dropped out of the race. Pollsters haven’t been interested in gathering information about the communities that most preferred her.

Anyone who tells you they do know is probably going to pitch you their candidate or poll. Ask for evidence. Point out when it’s not provided. Make your choice – not one someone else tries to sell you by treating your preference for a candidate as a commodity.

The feature image is from Rep. Jahana Hayes’s endorsement of Kamala Harris published in Essence here.