Don’t count out Kamala Harris

Her poll numbers are terrible. Her mini-surge came and went months ago, and didn’t get her anywhere. She’s begun laying people off. One of her aides is resigning and publicly lambasting her campaign. But there are good reasons why you shouldn’t count out Kamala Harris quite yet in the 2020 presidential race.

There’s plenty of room for debate as to why Kamala Harris is polling at a mere four percent in the 2020 Democratic primary race, nearly two dozen points out of the lead. She took on Joe Biden in the first debate and – fair or not – it didn’t end up playing particularly well for her. She’s running in an almost absurdly crowded Democratic field where plenty of good candidates are getting shoved aside. She’s a woman of color, in a political landscape where sexism and racism are always a factor. Take your pick.

But unlike some other low-polling candidates who are clearly out of contention, I don’t think Kamala Harris is done – if she can survive the upcoming thinning of the herd. She has a cool, calm, super-smart, commanding presence when she speaks. Once she gets going, time slows down a little and everyone starts to pay really close attention. It’s just hard to make that consistently work when you’re on the debate stage with nine other candidates, some of whom are delivering their message entirely in soundbites. If Harris can last until she’s on the stage with just three or four other candidates, she could be in a position to really help herself.

I’m not saying the odds of Kamala Harris winning the 2020 nomination are good. They’re not. But you can go down the list of Democratic candidates polling under 5% and point to several of them who are never going to climb into contention and should just drop out now. She isn’t one of them. If Harris can make it to the final five candidates, she might get back in the game. In any case, we’re still a long way away from the first actual primary votes being cast.