NEW YORK – Nearly nine out of 10 Democrats approve of US Senator Kamala Harris as their party’s vice-presidential nominee, and she is more popular than presidential candidate Joe Biden among women, young voters and some Republicans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday (Aug 12).
The Aug 11-12 public opinion survey also found that 60 per cent of Americans, including 87 per cent of Democrats and 37 per cent of Republicans, considered the selection of Ms Harris – the first Black woman and Asian American nominated for vice-presidency – to be a “major milestone” for the United States.
The US Senator from California is viewed about as favourably or better than Mr Biden in most major demographic groups, the poll showed, highlighting her potential to help the former vice-president expand his support in November’s election.
Ms Harris, 55, is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants and made her own bid for the White House. She was a former prosecutor and state attorney-general in California, and became only the second Black female US senator in history when elected in 2016.
The poll showed Mr Biden’s lead over Republican President Donald Trump was effectively unchanged after he announced his running mate choice, increasing by 1 percentage point among all Americans to an 8-point advantage – well within the poll’s credibility interval – when compared with a similar poll that ran on Monday and Tuesday.
Forty-six per cent of US adults said they would vote for a Biden/Harris ticket, while 38 per cent would vote for Mr Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence. A similar poll that ran on Monday and Tuesday showed that 44 per cent would vote for Mr Biden while 37 per cent would back Mr Trump.
The latest poll also found that 56 per cent of Americans have a favourable impression of Ms Harris, which is about the same as the number who favour Mr Biden. Forty-two per cent of US adults say they have a favourable view of Mr Trump and 47 per cent said the same of Mr Pence.
Among women, 60 per cent said they have a favourable view of Ms Harris, compared with 53 per cent who felt the same way about Mr Biden.
Women are the dominant force in American elections: they make up a bigger proportion of the US electorate than men, and a surge in support for Democrats among white, college-educated women helped the party retake the US House of Representatives in 2018.
Mr Biden already has an advantage over Mr Trump among women overall, but he has not improved his standing among black women in recent months, while white women without college degrees still largely favour Mr Trump.
EDGE WITH REPUBLICANS
In addition, about 25 per cent of Republicans said they had a favourable view of Ms Harris and approve of her choice as Mr Biden’s running mate. Only about 20 per cent of Republicans said they have a similarly favourable view of Mr Biden.
In a close election, peeling off even a small number of voters from the Republican Party could make a difference to the Democrats, political analysts said.
Ms Harris also is a little more popular among American adults who are younger than 35 years old: 62 per cent said they view Ms Harris favourably, while 60 per cent said the same of Mr Biden.
Public opinion could change and Mr Trump’s re-election campaign sharpens its criticism of the Democratic challengers. Within minutes of Mr Biden’s announcement on Tuesday, Mr Trump had called Ms Harris “nasty,” “horrible” and “disrespectful,” while his campaign painted her as an extremist who would yank the moderate Mr Biden to the left.
In choosing Ms Harris, Mr Biden heeded calls from Black leaders and activists to choose a woman of colour as a running mate and avoid a repeat of 2016, when the first decline of Black voter turnout in 20 years helped Mr Trump’s upset victory over Mrs Hillary Clinton. Black Americans – and Black women particularly – are the most loyal Democratic constituencies.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,000 adults, including 389 Republicans and 419 Democrats. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 3 percentage points.