We reported over the weekend how President Joe Biden was hit with a wave of more bad polling news, with an ABC News/Washington Post poll giving him a 64 percent disapproval rating with voters on the economy (and showing him trailing 10 points behind Trump in a general election match-up). An NBC News poll showed Biden down by double digits among key Democratic voting blocs and with a 72 percent disapproval on the economy.
Something not widely reported on but also of obvious concern to the Biden-Harris campaign was Vice President Kamala Harris’ net favorability rating. NBC News had it at 31% positive and 51% negative, which was worse than what they showed for Biden and Trump.
Former House Majority Whip and current Assistant Democratic Leader in the House James Clyburn (D-S.C.) appeared on “Meet the Press” Sunday to discuss in part the ongoing polling woes of Biden and Harris headed into 2024 and what he thought it meant for the campaign at this stage in the game.
Specifically, Clyburn was asked about Kamala Harris’ numbers and if he had any guesses as to “why” they were so bad. As per the norm, Clyburn leaned in on the talking point about how Harris is the first woman to ever be vice president and the fact that she’s also a woman of color, which Clyburn strongly insinuated was to a large extent behind why her numbers were not good.
But along the way, Clyburn also sent a warning shot to Joe Biden as the unwillingness of several prominent Democrats to give a strong endorsement for Harris to be Biden’s running mate again has raised questions as to whether those Democrats and a majority of Americans feel like she would be a good fit to lead the country in the event Joe Biden decides to step down (bolded emphasis added):
KRISTEN WELKER: Well, I know that you’re saying you don’t look at the polls too much. But our poll does show her favorability is actually lower than President Biden and even than former President Trump. Why do you think she’s not resonating more with voters? What do you think the issue is?
REP. JIM CLYBURN: Because when you compare the first woman of color and first woman to be vice president of the United States, and compare that to all of the history before, you will get that. I think that during this campaign, she will demonstrate, as she did in that hall last night, that she knows exactly what she’s doing. She has the capacity and the capability to be president of the United States if called upon to do so.
Just 31% of Americans have a favorable view of Kamala Harris — even lower than Biden.
Jim Clyburn says it's because she is a "woman of color and first woman to be vice president," but insists "she has the capacity and capability to be president." pic.twitter.com/G6WF9jnc33
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 24, 2023
Reading between the lines there you can see a subtle warning shot sent to Biden, which is: Don’t even think about dropping her off the ticket, buddy.
Clyburn, as RedState readers may remember, was instrumental in pressuring Biden in 2020 on the issue of nominating a woman of color as his running mate as a condition for his support. And Clyburn’s announcement in late Feb. 2020 that he backed Biden prior to the South Carolina primary was considered pivotal to Biden’s “comeback” in the campaign.
Biden undoubtedly feels very beholden to Clyburn for his machinations behind the scenes to rally the troops on his behalf at a time when some felt Biden’s campaign was on the ropes. So he – or, more to the point, his handlers – are in my opinion not even going to entertain the idea of replacing Harris on the ticket if for no other reason than not to agitate Clyburn, who is a powerful Democrat not just in Washington, DC but also back home in SC, where 60% of Democratic party voters are black.
In other words, the same things that got Harris picked in the first place – her physical characteristics – are likely going to be what keeps her from being kicked off of the ticket in 2024 despite her being a drag on Biden’s struggling campaign, which just further demonstrates the folly of identity politics – and which is something the GOP can and should use against Biden come election time.