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08/07/24 | 12:23 pm | Donald Trump | Kamala Harris

Could Kamala Harris beat Donald Trump in November’s presidential race?

She worries Republican donors, has name recognition, and Democratic Party heavyweights are beginning to line up behind her.

Vice President Kamala Harris would be President Joe Biden’s natural successor if he bowed to growing pressure and stepped aside as the Democratic candidate in the 2024 election, top Democrats say.

Now party donors, activists, and officials are asking: Does she have a better chance than Biden of beating Donald Trump? Biden has said repeatedly he is staying in the race.

Harris, 59, a former U.S. senator and California attorney general, would be the first woman to be president of the United States if she becomes the party’s nominee and prevails in the Nov. 5 election. She is the first African American and Asian person to serve as vice president.

Her 3-1/2 year White House tenure has been characterized by a lackluster start, staff turnover, and early policy portfolios including migration from Central America that did not produce major successes.

As recently as last year, many inside the White House and the Biden campaign team privately worried Harris was a liability for the campaign. The situation has changed significantly since then, Democratic officials have said, as she stepped forward on abortion rights and courted young voters.

She “is proud to be his running mate and looks forward to serving at his side for four more years,” the Biden Harris campaign told Reuters.

SOME POLLS FAVOR HARRIS

Recent polls suggest Harris could do better than Biden against Trump, the Republican candidate, although she would face a tight contest.

A CNN poll released on July 2 found voters favor Trump over Biden by six percentage points, or 49% to 43%. Harris also trailed Trump, 47% to 45%, within the margin of error.

It also found independents back Harris 43%-40% over Trump, and moderate voters of both parties prefer her 51-39%.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll after last week’s televised debate between Trump and a faltering Biden found Harris and Trump were nearly tied, with 42% supporting her and 43% backing him.

Only former first lady Michelle Obama, who has never expressed any interest in joining the race, polled higher among possible alternatives to Biden.

Internal polling shared by the Biden campaign after the debate shows Harris with the same odds as Biden of beating Trump, with 45% of voters saying they would vote for her versus 48% for Trump.

Influential Democrats including U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn, who was key to Biden’s 2020 win; Rep. Gregory Meeks, a New York congressman and senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Summer Lee, a House Democrat from Pennsylvania have signaled Harris would be the best option to lead the ticket if Biden chooses to step aside.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has also privately signaled the same to lawmakers, a Congressional aide said.

Harris is taken so seriously, that two Republican donors told Reuters they would prefer for Trump to face Biden than her.

“I would prefer Biden to stay in place”, rather than be replaced by Harris, said Pauline Lee, a fundraiser for Trump in Nevada after the June 27 debate, who said she thought Biden had proved himself to be “incompetent.”

And some on Wall Street, an important Democratic fundraising center, are starting to indicate a preference.

“Biden is already behind Trump and is unlikely to be able to overcome that gap given where his campaign is currently. Having VP Harris likely improves Democrats’ odds of taking the White House,” said Sonu Varghese, global macro strategist at Carson Group, a financial services company, after the debate. “There’s potentially more upside for her chances than Biden’s at this point.”

A majority of Americans see Harris in a negative light, as they do both men running for president.

Polling outlet Five Thirty-Eight said 37.1% of voters approve of Harris and 49.6% disapprove. Those numbers compare to 36.9% and 57.1% for Biden, and 38.6% and 53.6% for Trump.

(Reuters)

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