Sen. Kamala Harris (D) announced Tuesday that she was officially terminating her presidential campaign.
Journalists, bloggers and fellow Democrats were quick to cite Harris’ race and sex as the reasons why she plummeted 12.8 points in the polls since July. But citing features like these as the reasons for political success or failure is the laziest route to take — it completely overlooks every other legitimate factor that plays into a campaign, like funding, debate performance, platform and policy stance.
Firstly, Biden is polling the highest among black voters by a considerable margin, according to statistics compiled by the New York Times.
Identity politics favor skin color over policy plan, and it ultimately backfires on the group it intends to support. Blaming black voters for favoring a white candidate is the ultimate double-standard. Her polling numbers fell because of racism, according to sources like The Hill — but even the voters of her own race largely favor Biden.
In reality, Harris’ campaign failed because of three purely political reasons.
She first ran into trouble for waffling on whether she opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana. Harris openly opposed Prop. 19 — legislation that would legalize marijuana in California back in 2010.
In her seven years as district attorney in San Francisco, she oversaw 1,956 arrests for marijuana alone — disproportionately, those arrested were black. In 2008, she oversaw the second-most arrests for marijuana of any year on record.
As California attorney general from 2011-2017, Harris still maintained around 20,000 arrests for marijuana yearly. Then, suddenly, she voiced her strong support in lifting the federal ban on marijuana during her presidential campaign.
As an insult to all of those arrested, Harris brazenly admitted on-air to smoking marijuana and laughed about it.
Secondly, Harris earned the reputation of the “Female Obama” after The Guardian endowed her with the nickname during her Senate campaign in 2016.
While the term has been used both jokingly and endearingly, FiveThirtyEight writer Perry Bacon thinks there are some telling political undertones to the nickname, he said.
“Democratic voters were not looking for an Obama-style candidate running more on charisma and personality than on policy,” Bacon wrote earlier this week.
Arguably the biggest reason why Harris’ campaign failed is simply because she was not equipped with the necessary skills to be president. Harris failed time and time again to explain why she was running for office at all.
Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again,” while controversial, is concise and concrete. On the other side of the aisle, Warren has famously opposed Wall Street one-percenters, Sanders built a campaign around the implementation of social-democratic programs and Biden is pushing to finish some of the work Obama didn’t have time for in his eight years.
Harris struggled to answer questions about the most prominent issues like Medicare for All, while focusing more energy on reproductive rights and rights for transgender people – and, while these issues truly are important, they are too niche to have any effect on the average voter.
Harris failed not because of something as non-political as physical appearance, but because of her track record as an attorney coupled with a naive immaturity about the type of concrete, universal action plan required to become president of the U.S.