OK all a y’all, go ahead, give ma a ration of shit about Alex Acosta and my prediction. But hell, how was I supposed to know that somebody so craven and cowardly as to publicly debase and humiliate himself yesterday would suddenly grow a pair overnight, and tell Trump to fuck off. Live and learn.
But now, on to my main aimless meandering for the day. A look at the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday shows some surprising results, reconfirms somethings we already thought we knew, but it also exposes what could be a somewhat surprising, and also troubling tactical conundrum for Senator Kamala Harris going forward.
The poll hows that Harris has ridden a wave of popularity from her trouncing of Joe Biden in the debate to a solid, statistical tie third place with Bernie Sanders. This is not surprising, since Harris showed on a stage in Miami, in front of 18 million viewers, that she can disassemble and repackage an old, white guy. And if she can do it to Biden, she can do it to Trump.
from the day he announced, and even before that, his candidacy has been powered by his incredibly strong support in the African American community. In every poll, he has at least lapped, and in some cases double lapped his opposing candidates in support from African American voters. And if you’re going to win not just the White House, but the Democratic nomination, you’re going to have to do it with the support of black voters, especially black women voters, and they have been solidly in the corner of Biden from day one.
How did Harris turn Biden into Da Vinci’s The Dissected Man on Stage in Miami a couple of weeks ago? She did it by hammering him with his self confessed chumminess with white, segregationist Democratic Senators, and by helping to put the kibosh on forced federal busing, both of which should be sensitive and compelling issues for African American voters.
But while the NBC News/WSJ poll shows Harris surging nationally, a look at a specific breakdown number shows a problem for Harris. When you look at the poll among African American voters, Biden still leads Harris by a strong 37-17 margin, still lapping her in the poll. And this is a serious problem for Harris.
Personally, I think that Biden’s popularity with black voters is far oversimplified, and monolithic. Because Biden has leaned somewhat on his being Obama’s wing man for eight years, there is a tendency among some people to think that his support in the black community is tied solely to that. But that isn’t true. Biden was in fact an active and powerful advocate for civil rights issues long before Obama picked him as a running mate, and long before it became politically popular, especially among some white voters to do so. When Harris attacked Biden on those grounds in the debate, the effect seems to have been, at least partially, “So? Who are you girl? Biden was fighting for African Americans while you were riding that bus to school.” The black community has known Joe Biden for more than 35 years, and has long ago come to peace with him, Anita Hill and all.
In order to bypass Biden in the polls, Kamala Harris is going to have to raise her support in the African American community. She may not have to bypass him with her support among younger voters, but she’s going to have to significantly close the gap. But how does she do that? In Miami, she landed a first round haymaker right to Biden’s chin on busing and segregationists, and failed to move the needle in the black community appreciably. And that simple fact should be a general quarters klaxon to her campaign that continuing her attacks on Biden along racial lines is not only not going to help her, but may in fact turn some black voters off to her, for belittling their friend and advocate.
That is the problem for Harris and her campaign going forward. To beat Biden, she is going to have to find a way to elevate her popularity in the African American community. But if that poll is a valid indicator, she isn’t going to be able to use Biden’s civil rights record to do it. It will be interesting to see what kind of a cause celebre she finds to try and get that job done. Don’t touch that dial.