Why Kamala Harris Will Win the Democratic Nomination
Years ago, veteran political strategist Mark McKinnon (the producer/host of Showtime’s "The Circus") told me his theory on making political predictions:
“If you are wrong, no one remembers — if you are right, everyone thinks you are a political genius.”
Fortified by that philosophy, in April of last year I put forth "Five Reasons Kamala Harris likely will be Dems' pick."
Fast-forward nine months to Martin Luther King Day when California’s junior senator — in office only since January 3, 2017 — officially announced her bid to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.
And since nine months roughly equates to a century in political-dog-years, Harris’ announcement offers me an irresistible opportunity to revisit my five original reasons through the lens of 2019. Upon review, the political intensity surrounding and supporting those reasons has increased exponentially. Hence, “protected” by McKinnon’s theory, again I predict that Kamala Harris is likely to be the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.
What follows is a re-run of those five original reasons -- with some new observations.
1. Kamala Harris is a woman.
Stating the obvious, I wrote that the former California attorney general’s gender was a “powerful advantage,” because women “are the heart, soul and energy of the [Democratic] party.” They are unified by a “passionate loathing for what they believe is a misogynist man who currently occupies the White House and his ‘deplorable’ followers who defeated Hillary Clinton.”
But that was then, and this is now. In November’s midterms, Democratic women led the charge by electing 89 female House members — up from 62 — resulting in Democrats winning control of the chamber and installing a female speaker of the House.
By comparison, Republicans elected only 13 female House members, down from 23 seats.
Need more proof that the political power of Democratic women has increased? Three female Democratic senators have recently declared their presidential intentions, and the rumblings of Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar could make it four.
How does a crowded field of female presidential contenders help increase Harris’ chances of winning the nomination? Think of her gender as a stool on which the following four reasons are piled, making the stack even taller.
2. Kamala Harris is mixed race.
Again, it’s obvious, but the midterms proved that Democrats are increasingly nominating racially diverse candidates to high office. Back in April I wrote, “As a mixed-race daughter of immigrants, Harris could be viewed culturally as the political ‘poster child’ of America’s future. Her Jamaican father came to the U.S. in 1961 and her mother from India in 1960.”
Naturally, Harris will use her unique blend of ethnicity to gain every conceivable political advantage because she can. In America’s rapidly changing demographic, cultural, and political environment, any shade of skin other than white is perceived as young, cool and more relatable. That sentiment is nicely summarized in Harris’ campaign slogan, “For the People.” (To my ears, that borders on sounding socialist, but it still beats Hillary Clinton’s “I’m with her” in 2016, which translated meant “It’s all about me.”)
3. Kamala Harris: America’s new “role model.”
Under this heading I discussed how the mainstream media tend to build and reinforce a positive narrative when slobbering over their preferred presidential candidate, writing, “Harris’ story arc only needs a White House ending. Her narrative boasts that she is smart, sassy, non-white, well-spoken, experienced and accomplished.”
Now, given recent headlines, I need to add “daughter of immigrants,” a phrase we are sure to hear and read about ad nauseam. Furthermore, after the midterms proved that strong women are on the political ascent, “fighter” is the word most overused by Harris and the other female presidential contenders.
But Sen. Harris has the advantage because as a mixed-race “daughter of immigrants,” representing the nation’s largest state, “fighting” (of course) “for the people,” expect to hear “role model” bandied about in the media, also to the point of ad nauseam.
4. Barack Obama will help Harris with her campaign.
Talk about a media narrative. In 2015, when Harris was still California’s attorney general — two years before she took her seat in the Senate — a Washington Post headline boldly asked, "Is Kamala Harris the Next Obama?"
Mirroring Obama, she is running for president after serving only two years in the upper chamber and Harris has followed his political playbook to the T. (Also, as proof of the 44th president’s affection for Harris, in 2013 he publicly called her "the best-looking attorney general in the country.")
I’ve written about Obama as the Democratic Party kingmaker, and now the countdown begins for the “KamalaBama” media frenzy sure to erupt when the two of them have their first post-announcement meeting. Yee-hah!
5. Kamala Harris has a strategic advantage over President Trump.
If I am correct in believing that Harris is likely to win the nomination, how and when will Trump personally attack her? The fact that she is a non-white woman representing the nation’s largest state, Trump’s every word and tweet will be analyzed and scrutinized from the perspective of race and gender.
Then, imagine Harris, a former prosecutor with a big-mouth gutsy style and “fighter” persona, versus Trump -- who never stops fighting. This means their prospective match-up will make Clinton vs. Trump look quaint by comparison.
On Harris’ side, she will be campaigning in a nation polarized to the hilt, a land rapidly becoming more mixed-race and progressively left-leaning. (Dare I say socialist?)
Conversely, Trump has a solid base of roughly 40 percent of voters, and most significant, the power of incumbency with a 68.7 percent re-election rate for all U.S. presidents (and consecutive re-elections for the last three).
The bad news for Trump is that this week a general election survey conducted by Public Policy Polling (a Democratic pollster) found Harris trumped him by a margin of 48 percent to 41 percent. In fact, every Democrat candidate in the poll, declared or undeclared, defeated the president with margins of victory ranging from five to 12 percentage points.
A bright spot for my fellow Republicans is that a leading political prediction market favors Trump’s re-election.
At this writing, I realistically know that it’s far too early to predict such a confrontational Trump/Harris match-up, as was also true in April 2018. But, nine months later, at least Harris has declared her presidential intentions. And, even with former Vice President Joe Biden leading all the polls for the Democratic nomination by double digits, I am sticking with Harris.
Politics in the Trump-era has evolved into high-stakes entertainment and a Harris/Trump race offers the potential to be the greatest blockbuster of all time. Or dare I say ballbuster?