The first week of June the debacle began. The Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, was getting ready for her first trip abroad since her historic arrival at the White House. Joe Biden had entrusted him with the titanic task of managing the migration crisis on the border with Mexico, clearly showing that his number two it was destined to be a fundamental piece in his Administration and it would not feed the fame of occupying a position empty of power, as it has happened on other occasions. Before flying, in an interview with NBC, Harris claimed to have been at the border, a fact that the journalist denied. At the time of rectification, the democrat replied simply: “I have not been to Europe either.” It was a blunder, but it did not go beyond the anecdote. Already in Guatemala, he launched the message that outraged his progressive bases. He asked those who were considering emigrating without papers to the United States not to do so. “Don’t come, don’t come,” he said. Since then, his popularity has chained three months of free fall.
All polls show a decline in popularity, but the extent of the crash varies depending on the study. In conservative polls, Harris appears with the worst grade for a vice president in 50 years. In the liberals, on the other hand, they reduce the blow: they are the worst data in 30 years, always making the comparison with the first seven months in office.
Harris’s disapproval is close to 50% and approval reaches 43.5%, according to the YouGov America platform, reversing the figures she recorded when she became the country’s first female vice president. He also broke a glass ceiling by being the first person of Indian and Jamaican origin to land the job. Expectations – and scrutiny – started strong. The pressure is even greater in her case, since since her arrival at the White House she has been seen as a possible Democratic candidate for the 2024 elections in the event that Joe Biden, who will be about to turn 82, does not appear .
The lack of results in the border crisis – the number of arrests in July was the highest in two decades – is not the only argument Republicans use to attack Harris. Since taking office, he has held virtually no solo press conferences, according to The Hill, beyond a meeting during his visit to Vietnam at the end of August, in which he answered questions from journalists for 20 minutes. The low profile he has assumed in recent weeks on the hottest issues has been made more evident in the Afghanistan crisis due to the withdrawal of US troops.
When chaos broke out in Kabul, Harris was touring Southeast Asia. In an appearance on August 24, he defended Biden’s decision to end the war, highlighted the way in which the evacuation operation was being carried out and thanked the allies for their collaboration. And then he settled the matter. Since then, according to White House statements, the vice president has not publicly referred to the matter. He has written some tweets to support Biden’s messages. Feminists are still waiting to hear her position on the situation of Afghan women now living under Taliban control, and her critics blame her for a lack of foreign policy experience.
A survey of Los Angeles Times reveals that the greatest rejection of Harris’s management comes from men (56%, compared to 44% in women) and whites, also 56%, while the black community is the one that supports her the most, with 65%. An investigation by the newspaper highlights that Harris, like other women politicians with relevant positions, has increasingly become the target of online harassment. In social networks there are hundreds of thousands of messages with “sexist, violent and misogynistic attacks against her,” reports the Los Angeles newspaper. Other media have published articles, citing anonymous sources, about the growing discomfort that exists in their work team.
It is common for vice presidents in the United States to be valued worse than their bosses, since their tasks tend to arouse less interest. Until a few weeks ago, this was the case in the Biden-Harris Administration, but the fiasco of the departure from Afghanistan has also punished the president, who now carries a percentage of failure of more than 49%. Despite the short time that both have been in office – they entered the White House on January 20 – the drop in support may hurt Democrats in next year’s legislative elections, where they could lose control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The 2024 presidential election is still a long way off. But the drop in popularity is weighing on both Biden, who has announced his intention to run, and Harris, the possible replacement if this does not happen. They both start off on the wrong foot to compete again against Donald Trump, who is already openly flirting with trying to return to the White House within three years.
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