Thursday Debate Preview: The Post-Kamala Primary

December 18, 2019

The Data Shows What Happened to the Harris Campaign

New Polling from California Reveals Key Dynamics Going Forward

On the Wisdom of Playing the Cards We Are Dealt

By Al Giordano

(This is a brief excerpt – just 238 of 5,156 words sent to subscribers today – from Issue #97 of Al Giordano’s América newsletter. To gain access to this and all 2019 and future 2020 reports – and all the backstage content here at Organize & Win, including Thursday’s debate watch party and the presidential straw poll that follows – click here to subscribe.)

Kamala Harris’ campaign for president has ended due to misogyny and misogynoir. Yet how sexism and racism weighed her chances down is widely misunderstood or misstated, according to the data of Change Research, one of the most accurate polling companies during the 2018 midterm elections.

Over the past year, Change surveyed more than 60,000 voters – more than 5,000 of whom indicated Kamala Harris as their first choice for the Democratic nomination – and found Harris was also a highly-ranked as a second choice, too.

The data tells the story: The 17.1 percent of Harris voters who described themselves as “moderate” held the second smallest share to that of Bernie Sanders (14.6 percent) and nearly identical to that of Elizabeth Warren’s voters (17.2 percent), whereas a third of Joe Biden voters, a quarter of Amy Klobuchar voters and more than one out of five of Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker and Tulsi Gabbard’s backers described themselves in 2019 as “moderates.” Harris’ base was in the top tier of “most progressive.” But she – and her voters – kept getting miscast as otherwise.

A common and regular mistake by political reporters has been to characterize Harris as a “centrist” who appealed to “moderate” voters. This myopia often stems from the confusion that occurs when coalitional politics are misunderstood as somehow ideological; a consequence of what happens when news organizations assign political coverage to people with no lived experience organizing political campaigns.

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