The election of Kamala Harris: geographic balance takes a backseat to gender and race
In selecting the junior senator from California, a state that Democrats have captured in every presidential election since 1992, Biden embraced the modern imperatives of Democratic coalition-building that have made the days of choosing running partners who could hand over their home states a relic of the past.
Harris, who is half black and half American Indian, is not expected to shake the electoral map, nor is the Biden campaign expected to do so. The former vice president leads polls on most crucial battlefields.
Instead, since black voters resurrected their primary candidacy in South Carolina, Biden and his campaign team have made the November search for black voters a centerpiece of their run for the White House. And she had said early in the process that she would choose a woman as her running mate.
“She will be a huge motivator for this ticket,” stated Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, a key Biden sponsor.
Yes Harris does not bring any particular new state into play, Democratic strategists and Biden’s allies hoped that his place on the ballot could increase Biden’s turnout and margins on the map and strengthen his position in the states Hillary Clinton lost in 2016. , in large part due to a drop in votes in African-American communities.
That includes the big cities in the industrial states that the president Donald trump held in 2016 – Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – where Democrats fell short of the same levels as former President Barack Obama, as well as more Republican-leaning states with sizable black populations, such as North Carolina and Georgia, than the The Democratic Party has invested resources in 2020.
“This is a 1,000% demographic pick,” said Theodore R. Johnson, principal investigator for the Brennan Center for Justice, who studies voting behavior among black voters. He predicted that Harris black participation would increase.
In truth, despite all the talk about geographic balance in presidential entries, it has been decades since he was at the top of the list of presidential candidates looking for a running mate. Biden’s list of finalists this year was proof of that: Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, was one of the few who fit that old model.
“Geography died a long time ago as a deal breaker,” said Anita Dunn, one of Biden’s top advisers, of running mates in the presidential election.
In 2000, Al Gore lost his home state of Tennessee at the top of the ticket. In 2004, John Kerry chose a southern running mate, John Edwards, who lost his home state of North Carolina. And in 2012, Paul Ryan didn’t help Mitt Romney in Wisconsin.
“Geographic balance seems to be a thing of the political past with our 24/7 media cycle,” said Scott Reed, who was the campaign manager for Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential nomination. Dole chose Jack Kemp from New York as his running mate; they lost New York to Bill Clinton.
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Survey Institute, said the historical patterns have become increasingly clear. “A vice president does not bring you states,” he said. “The last vice president to bring in a state was Lyndon Johnson in 1960.”
Gender and race are another matter, especially in today’s political environment, in which Democrats seek to prevent Trump from winning a second term. Biden had said at the end of the primary season that he would select a woman as his running mate, and he had been aggressively pressured for months to select a black woman.
Many Democrats celebrated the landmark decision Tuesday. Not only has no black woman ever been nominated for vice president or president; a black woman has never served as governor of any state.
“This has sent a bolt of electricity through a base that has been watching, waiting and looking for a reason to be excited about this race,” said Matt Morrison, CEO of Working America, a worker-backed political group with 3 millions of people. members. “I have a black mother who is literally through the roof and is emblematic of the visceral excitement of the rank and file that brought Barack Obama to the White House.”
The Biden campaign announced that the time to HarrisThe selection was the best time of the campaign in terms of fundraising. ActBlue, the party’s main online donation processing site, raised nearly $ 9 million between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Praise for HarrisThe potential impact came despite the fact that she failed, in her own 2020 presidential bid, to gain much traction among African American voters, who supported Biden over her and the other black candidates in the race, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts. And polls suggest that despite all the pressure on Biden from African-American leaders to pick a black running mate, black voters were far less likely to make that a priority in their selection.
“What we’ve been hearing even before today is that there is a strong sense of urgency to come out of the closet,” said Angela Lang, executive director of Black Leaders Organizing for Community in Milwaukee. “I think in some cases this will excite people and I think it will disappoint some people as well. But people are not going to be left out for a vice president election. “
Robert Shrum, director of the Center for Political Future at the University of Southern California, said more than anything else the choice of Harris It should address one of the reasons Clinton lost so little to Trump in 2016.
“One of the problems in 2016 was a drop in the African American vote in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania,” he said.
Democrats also hope that the election of Harris it will also attract moderates in undecided states, particularly in suburban areas where they have greater support from suburban women.
Almost since the start of the 2020 contest, voters and experts alike have argued that Harris it could be destined to rank No. 2 this year. She was pressured about this so often during her own presidential run, sometimes to her visible irritation, that she once half-jokingly told reporters that “Joe Biden would make a great running mate” as vice president.
Trump himself called Harris his “No. 1 draft pick” at a press conference Tuesday.
Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, said the fact that Harris being the daughter of immigrants would be far more important in helping Biden’s ticket there than where she was from.
“Geography matters less than it used to in the general scheme of things,” Rizzo said. “She is the daughter of immigrants. Florida is a state of immigrants ”.
Lis Smith, a Democratic strategist who was one of Pete Buttigieg’s top advisers during his presidential campaign, said the notion that selection would affect the electoral map was “the biggest betting myth.”
“It’s not like that,” he said. “She hasn’t done it in my entire life.”
But she said choosing Harris it was still politically powerful. “With all the issues related to systemic racism, it is very important symbolically to have a black woman on the ticket,” Smith said. “It is about understanding where we are.”