Democrat California Sen. Kamala Harris surged toward the front of the field of 2020 candidates following her strong performance in her party’s first primary debate in late June and was considered to be a top contender to challenge former Vice President Joe Biden for the nomination to take on President Donald Trump.
It appears that Harris has faltered somewhat over the past month, however, as a new poll released just before the second round of debates showed that support for Harris has plunged while Biden managed to regain his comfortable lead over the rest of the field.
Harris slumps, Biden surges
The latest national poll of Democrat candidates from Quinnipiac University revealed that Biden was the clear front-runner with 34% support among Democratic voters and independents who lean Democrat.
Harris ranked third among respondents with 12% support, trailing second-place Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 15% and barely edging out Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 11% support.
Those numbers were quite a significant change from Quinnipiac’s previous poll that was conducted just days after the first round of debates, in which Harris surged to a close second place with 20% support behind Biden’s 22% support.
In other words, the month of July saw Biden gain 12 percentage points among surveyed voters, while Harris lost 8 percentage points.
“In the blink of an eye, the post-debate surge for Sen. Kamala Harris fades and former Vice President Joseph Biden regains his footing among Democratic presidential contenders,” Mary Snow, polling analyst for Quinnipiac, said of the latest numbers.
Failing among key demographic groups
Interestingly, Quinnipiac provided some of the demographic breakdowns of the latest poll which showed Harris struggling to best Biden even among several key constituency groups on which Harris would presumably be able to depend for support.
Among black Democratic voters, Biden enjoyed 53% support, while Harris only earned the support of 7%. Among women Democrat voters, the gap was smaller, but the outcome still the same — Biden led with 34% compared to 14% support for Harris.
When it came to the question of who would be the best leader, Harris had the support of only 9% of Democrat voters while Biden had the support of 36% of those same respondents. As for having the best chance to defeat Trump in 2020, only 8% chose Harris while 51% picked Biden.
The drop in support for Harris revealed by this poll was not a one-off occurrence, either, as the RealClearPolitics average of polls for the 2020 candidates has shown a similar dip in the California senator’s electoral prospects. She currently ranks fourth nationally with 10.5% support, down from a high-water mark of 15.2% and second-place in early July.
It will be interesting to see if the polls will be shaken up again following the second round of debates and if Harris will experience a surge of support once more, or if voter enthusiasm for her campaign has already peaked and her exit from the race has become inevitable.