After jumpstarting her presidential campaign with a major rally in front of more than 20,000 people in January, California Sen. Kamala Harris appeared to be one of the favorites to win the 2020 Democratic nomination.
But while her campaign seemed to be on the precipice of a stratospheric rise after she had an effective TV moment with Joe Biden in the first debate, things fell apart quickly. Her botched attempts to appeal to both moderate and liberal voters left her campaign without an identity, her record as a prosecutor was unpopular on the far left, and she failed to stand out in subsequent debates. Thus Harris trudged into this week, suddenly trailing billionaire Michael Bloomberg in the polls and bleeding money from an unsuccessful fundraising arm.
On Tuesday, she concluded that she could not afford to go farther.
“In good faith, I can’t tell you, my supporters and volunteers, that I have a path forward if I don’t believe I do,” Harris wrote in an email to supporters. “So, to you my supporters, it is with deep regret — but also with deep gratitude — that I am suspending my campaign today.”
Harris is far from the first Democrat to cancel her campaign this year, but (with the possible exception of Beto O’Rourke) she is the one with the highest profile. Her recent poll numbers had her languishing in Andrew Yang territory, so no one can say her dropout comes as a surprise.
But then again, in a race where Amy Klobuchar (and Yang, for that matter) are still in it, you have to think that Harris’s departure could herald a major thinning of the field. It’s hard to see anyone outside of Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, or Pete Buttigieg having a legitimate shot at the nomination…and it’s probably overly kind to include Mayor Pete in that group.
Buttigieg is struggling because he cannot attract African-American voters to his campaign, incidentally, and this is also one of the major problems that Harris faced. She was undoubtedly counting on her ability to appeal to black voters, but they have remained steadfastly loyal to Biden thus far. Without any other obvious constituencies to draw from, Harris couldn’t manage to put together a campaign that actually spoke to anyone. She was just…there. Taking up space. And her attempts to start a feud with Tulsi Gabbard, of all people, did nothing to resurrect her already-dying candidacy.
Harris will return to the Senate and aim for some television “moments” during the near-inevitable impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Among the most disgraceful Democrats during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Harris is sure to give us more of the same next year. And so, while her presidential campaign may be ending prematurely, we’re confident in saying that we saw more than enough.