The Kamala effect

I assume you are all aware that California Sen. Kamala Harris is now the Democratic nominee for Vice President. I didn’t post about that on Wednesday because it was hardly news by the time I published, but there are things to discuss. Pretty much as humidity follows the rain in Houston, we now have several articles about how Harris’ place on the ticket may have an effect on the race in Texas. So let’s take a look and see what we can learn.

From the Trib:

Kamala Harris

“I think Kamala Harris is the perfect choice for the moment,” Abhi Rahman, a spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party, told The Texas Tribune on Wednesday. “She’s the perfect pick for Texas and for this entire country. … A lot of us knew her potential and what she could bring.”

In Harris, Texas Democrats see a winning formula — someone who can excite key members of their electorate but who holds positions that won’t alienate the more moderate voters the party is trying to win over with President Donald Trump on the ballot. The party faithful, still energized by former U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke’s closer-than-expected margin of defeat in 2018, think that the mainstream Democratic politics shared by both Biden and Harris will give the state the much-needed boost to flip the state blue. Texas hasn’t nominated a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter in 1976.


This year the once-reliable Republican stronghold of Texas is approaching swing state status. A June 3 poll by Quinnipiac University gave Trump a 1-percentage-point lead in the state. A July poll by the same university gave Biden a 1 point lead over Trump.

Though Harris’ selection may have eroded any hope for progressives that Biden would choose someone from the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren-led wing, others in the party are hoping Harris can get more suburban women to the polls and can help hone Biden’s pitch to Black voters, a bloc that needs to turn out in strong numbers if Democrats are going to have a chance in the state.

Harris is the daughter of immigrants; her father is from Jamaica and her mother is from India. By picking her, Democrats argue, Biden may have given the party’s most loyal voters a reason — beyond animosity toward Trump — to work for and elect the ticket.

“The Black, Hispanic and South Asian communities have been engaged in the political process for quite a number of years,” said state Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston. “These communities were largely already there for Biden, but this is going to solidify that support. These communities aren’t just casting votes, but they’re going to get out there and work.”

Along similar lines, here’s the Chron:

“For Texas, there is not a better pick,” said Mustafa Tameez, a Democratic strategist in Houston.

“She has a multicultural background,” Tameez said. “Having someone who can authentically speak to those populations in the suburbs is going to create momentum. Having somebody like that on the ticket automatically jump starts it.”

Political scientists say Democrats are probably right about the boost Harris can provide in the suburbs, even though she may not excite progressives in the state who were crucial to elevating O’Rourke’s 2018 campaign and mobilizing younger voters in general in Texas.

Harris, who is the daughter of immigrants, could be especially effective in areas like Fort Bend County, one of the biggest and fastest growing counties in the state, where more than 28 percent of the population is foreign born and more than 20 percent are Asian-American.

“By selecting someone who isn’t overwhelmingly identified with the most progressive wing of the party, Biden’s pick can technically appeal to both sets of voters — moderate whites and moderate white women who may be considering the Democratic party, and people of color in Texas,” said Joshua Blank, research director at the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Politics Project.

Harris also could appeal to minority voters who make up the bulk of the Democrats’ base in Texas — both the Asian-Americans who are driving much of the growth of the state’s suburbs, and with Black women who “have been the base and buckle of the Democratic party,” said Michael O. Adams, a political scientist at Texas Southern University

“There’s a lot of energy there,” Adams said.


Harris addresses the biggest concern that Democrats had coming out of 2016, when a record 137.5 million Americans voted in the presidential election.

But data from the Pew Research Center shows that while almost every demographic group saw a corresponding boost in turnout, black turnout declined for the first time in 20 years, falling from 66.6 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent in 2016.

In the battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania there was a huge drop-off in turnout among women of color who previously voted for President Barack Obama, said Aimee Allison, founder of She The People, a California-based group that has been pushing Democrats to more genuinely address issues of importance to women of color. All three of those states wound up voting for Donald Trump, paving his way to the White House.

“Women of color are one of the largest and most influential Democratic constituencies — and no candidate can win the nomination or the White House without us,” Allison said earlier this year.

In 2019, Allison organized the first She The People rally in Houston at Texas Southern University, an ode to former Houston Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. That event put Harris and other early Democratic contenders for the White House before an audience of mostly women of color in an early test of who could connect with that critical base of voters.

For Harris, it would be one of three stops at Texas Southern University while she tried to build momentum in Texas — a state where her campaign never gained traction despite those early forays into Houston.

Still those trips illustrated Harris’ ties to historically Black colleges and universities. Harris is a graduate of Howard University and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, a Black sorority with 300,000 members and more than 1,000 local chapters.

“Things like this resonate well in the Black community and the Black electorate,” said Adams at TSU.

A lot of opinions, but not a lot of data. It’s really hard to say what the actual effect of Kamala Harris as the VP candidate as opposed to any of the other possible candidates may be. She has her strengths and her drawbacks, but overall and in many ways looks to be a big positive for the ticket. The main job of any VP nominee is to first do no harm, and then from there to be the most effective voice for the Presidential nominee that one can be. I appreciated the insights that Morgan State poli sci professor Jason Johnson gave in this episode of the What Next podcast. I tend to agree with the position that Donald Trump will have the biggest effect on the election, because the election is entirely about Donald Trump. I think Harris advances the argument that a vote for Biden (now Biden/Harris) is a vote to restore sanity and stability in America, and I’m confident she will be an outstanding campaigner. That’ll play just fine in Texas.

There is another factor to consider.

On a quiet street in Bellaire, the Sinha sisters, in seventh and fifth grade, already know all about the historic nomination of Sen. Kamala Harris as the Vice President on the Democratic ticket.

“I think that Kamala Harris has inspired young women like me that we can do anything we put our minds to,” 10-year-old Anisa Sinha said.

“Kamala, she comes from a culture that really celebrates the strength of powerful women,” said older sister Reva, who is heading into seventh grade. “I just feel like she helps me and other young women feel seen and heard.”

The girls’ parents smile with pride hearing those words from their daughters. As Indian Americans, the fact that a child of Jamaican and Indian immigrants is nominated for the second highest office in the country is a point of pride.

“I think the intersection of her being Black and Asian is really important,” said Pranika, the girls’ mother. “Not only is she a woman of color, but the fact that she is representing two populations that are historically underrepresented in politics is really important. My great aunt’s name is Kamala, so I identify with that as well.”

Meanwhile, Judge R.K. Sandill, the first civil district judge of South Asian descent elected in Texas, shares the same sense of hope.

“If my Twitter and Facebook feed is any indication, the South Asian community is pumped,” he said. “We’ve been huge (monetary) contributors to both parties for a long time. But now that we’re on a track to engage, not just with activists, but also for our kids.”

Sandill remembers when he first ran for office 13 years ago, South Asian candidates were almost unheard of in Texas. Now, there are several other judges from his community, and the Fort Bend County Judge, K.P. George, is Indian American.

Harris’ background could increase voter turnout in November, and could possibly make a difference in a few tight races down the ballot.

“In a diverse state like Texas, she brings a lot to the table,” political consultant Keir Murray said. “Texas has more Black voters than any state in America, more than 1.5 million. And she’s South Asian, and the Asian American population is the fastest growing and most politically dynamic in Texas.”

In fact, as Michael Li notes, Texas is home to over 700K Asian voters, more than double what any other battleground state has. Asian-Americans voted strongly Democratic in 2018, so if there is a boost in turnout with them thanks to Kamala Harris, that will be a benefit as well. That might be a good topic for some political scientists to look into, now and after the election once the voting results are in. We know she has a lot of strengths as a candidate. Now we look forward to seeing her use them.

Related Posts:

This entry was posted in The making of the President and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to The Kamala effect

  1. Flypusher says:

    Another effect is that she’s bringing out even more racism and stupidity from the RWNJs. Birtherism2.0 over someone born in CA? Yeah, go with that.

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    Unfortunately it was just about impossible for Biden to win, but this choice pretty much seals the deal.

  3. Flypusher says:

    OK, I’ll bite. What evidence do you have to support that statement?

  4. David Fagan says:

    I say this thread will go for 30 comments at least. It will be to 15 by tomorrow.

  5. Jason Hochman says:

    Well…Professor Helmut Norpoth, who has predicted accurately in 5 of the 6 most recent elections, using his primary model, predicted that Trump would win, based on Biden’s week showing in the primaries, and now, Harris was even weaker in the primaries, didn’t even make it to the primaries.

    Add to that Harris is from a state that the Democrats were likely to win anyway.

    Add to that Harris was a prosecutor who cavalierly locked up minorities and marijuana users, even though she herself inhaled, which will not fit in well with the defunding the police movement. Meanwhile, the current president had prison reform that got a lot of minorities and small time drug offenders out of prison.

    Further, Harris pointed out Biden’s support of opponents to busing kids to schools, and now, she has reversed her deeply held opinion and supports him.

    Considering that Biden hasn’t really said much about his policies and platform, he has little else, and should have picked a better running mate, rather than choosing based on identity politics. Right wing sites are posting some statements from her father criticizing her identity politics and her connecting her Jamaican heritage with marijuana smoking.

    What does Biden plan to do if elected? He hasn’t really said anything other than raise taxes, and make a national mask law. Of course we’re being told that the federal government has done nothing about the pandemic, but the fact is that the federal government has spent, according to usa spending dot gov, 1.3 trillion dollars on COVID. Also, they have Operation Warp Speed. So Biden will make us all wear a mask, which serves as a reminder to be afraid and don’t ask any questions.

    Of course I’m sure that some of the 1.3 trillion went to friends of Trump, I don’t support him, Manny. But come on man, is Biden the answer? His prior administration left us with ACA instead of single payer, giving us a for profit medical model which doesn’t prepare for a pandemic. And failed to stop systemic racism.

    I just don’t see that Biden can win, and his running mate won’t help. I’m still hoping that Sanders will run.

  6. Jules says:

    Holy cow Jason. Why do you care who runs, you don’t vote.

  7. C.L. says:

    Sanders’ RAN, as in past tense. He is no longer running, as in present tense.

    I don’t give a shit if Joe and Kamala get elected and spend their next four years drinking hot toddies in/around a DC hot tub or Delaware beach. Anything would be better than the present clown car Administration.

  8. Bill Daniels says:

    First, put me down for this thread going waaaay beyond 30 comments. This is the biggest DNC presidential campaign story in months, and Kamala will be the face of the campaign, because Joe needs to stay in the basement so he doesn’t keep saying cringeworthy stuff every time he goes outside.

    Now, Kamala is an overt diversity hire, chosen ONLY because she has an innie and isn’t white, which in itself is a failure, because, while she is black, she is not African American. She fizzled out of the Democrat primary, because DEMOCRAT voters don’t even like her, but she’s being trotted out again. I still remember the moment her star fell, when Tulsi laid her open with the facts….she locked up black people for pot while laughing about using it herself, worked those same blacks as slave labor for the state of California, and even kept that labor past their release dates. The Democrats are all in on being anti-law enforcement and ‘defund the police,’ and they just nominated a ‘top cop.’ LOL!

    Kamala couldn’t even handle the Tulsi attack, the attack that sunk her in the Democrat primary in one debate. Good luck with Kamala handling the savagery that Trump is going to dish out. I just wonder if Mr. Morality, Mike Pence, will go low and point out that Kamala got famous with knee pads, just like Monica.

    He probably won’t, because that would be unseemly. Guarantee Trump won’t have that problem.

    DNC: “Hey, look, y’all, here’s a black woman, just like we promised!”

    Stunning and brave. Stunning. And. Brave.

  9. Flypusher says:

    Well that answers my question, lots of concern trolling with very little substance. It’s interesting to note that you can take your criticisms of Harris’ selection (identity politics! No geographic gains!), substitute “Mike Pence”, and it’s just as true. You also need to brush up on some history. Start with the phrase “Voodoo economics”. Let’s also review who supported those tough on crime bills from the 90s (spoiler alert-a rather diverse coalition). Biden allegedly has no plan, yet Trump has whiffed 3 times on softball “what are your plans for a 2nd term” questions from friendly reporters. And yes, let’s ignore every poll and just listen to one guy.

    Also nothing to account for a botched response to a pandemic that has caused tens of thousands of avoidable deaths. Just on that alone Trump’s re-election chances ought to be zero, but I know better than to say he has no chance, especially with his open cheating.

    For someone who claims to not be a Trump supporter Jason, you sure do have a marked tendency to magnify every potential Biden mote and brush aside the Trump beams.

  10. voter_worker says:

    I just put in my pre-order for Disloyal. Critiques of Harris and Biden fade into nothingness when compared to what is portended in that book’s forward, published yesterday.

  11. blank says:

    I believe the usual reply to concerns about Biden from the left is a simple polite reminder that RBG is 87 years old. If that doesn’t convince someone on the left to vote for Biden, then I don’t think s/he can be convinced.

  12. Manny says:

    Trump cultists like Jason and Bill, don’t care if there were videos of Trump raping 13 year old girls, they would still support him. There is no video, but a woman claimed that Trump raped her when she was 13.

    Agree with C.L. anyone would be better than the Russian asset that occupies the White House.

  13. Gary D says:

    Professor Helmut Norpoth has a theory that he can predict the winner from the first primary and how long the party has held the presidency. He later modified it to include the first four primaries. He predicted, and won’t change the prediction because that is his theory, that Trump will win 362 electoral votes.
    Trump currently leads in states with 165 ECV.
    Good luck going with that Jason, why don’t you try astrology next?
    Sanders likes Biden and has worked with him. He is much more enthusiastic about Biden then he was with Hillary. He lost, he got over it. You should too.
    As to Bill, he isn’t worth replying to.

  14. David Fagan says:

    Come on y’all, one more comment makes 15! Who loves them some Donald Harris?

  15. Jason Hochman says:

    Gary, Professor Norpoth represents the Science, he is an expert and beyond question by mere mortals such as us.

    I agree, Sanders is a disappointment. Every time the Democrats do all they can to prevent him getting the nomination, he endorses their fetid choice. I am not over it. The only choice, if you’re going to vote, is Kanye West.

    Biden is not exactly running a campaign on ideas. His biggest selling point is that he is not Trump. When I listen to Jimmy Dore, he is not impressed with Biden as a president. As a nice guy, sure, as a president, not so much

    I didn’t reply to Bill, and I guess you won’t either. But let’s just say that Bill makes a good point. Harris was the top cop putting away minorities for smoking marijuana, and won’t fit in with the defund the police movement.

    I recommend not replying to Manny, he will respond with personal attacks and his life is one great big woke a thon.

  16. David Fagan says:

    WHAAAAAAAAAT?! 15 responses in the FIRST DAY! I can’t believe it, go for 30! Manny ‘s up next with some straight up smack talking SKILLLLLZZZZ! cause it ain’t about the issues, it’s about the TALKING SMACK! bring it manny!

  17. David Fagan says:


  18. Manny says:

    David you are a disgrace to the firefighter who went on with their lives.

    So what was the issue David? That the comments would go up to 30?

    What I find amazing is that fools like you never seem to be bothered when Trump or you or other idiots engage in smack talk. Think your little minds will bother me or as to when or what I decide to respond with?

  19. David Fagan says:

    YES!!!!!!!!!! you’re wonderful, Manny.

  20. C.L. says:

    You can’t dismiss Dr. Fauci’s science but embrace Dr. Norpoth’s science. That makes no sense.

    No one gives a shit about who smoked some doobage or when they smoked or what happened when they smoked or who they smoked it with or whether or not it was illegal when they smoked it. No one gives a shit about cops arresting stoners 20-30 years ago as the cops who did the arresting, the attorneys who defended the puffers, the judges that put them away, and the paroles who got out early ‘cause it ain’t illegal no mo (Texas, your day of reckoning is coming) are now all happily burning a big phat one while sitting in their easy chair while scrolling through Netflix Originals.

  21. Jason Hochman says:

    C.L. are you outside of your mind? Saying nobody cares about 20 or 30 years ago? When we are out there smashing statues of people who lived 3oo or 400 years ago? Nobody today is sitting in an easy chair smoking a bong and watching Netflix when they could be breaking down a statue.

    Norpoth is a scientist and an expert. Fauci is a playboy on the cover of In Style magazine, sitting by his pool, enjoying being rich while he tells you that it is “inconvenient” that you lost your job and you get to stay home in a house the size of a rabbit hutch, with no pool and an eviction notice on your door. sorry for the inconvenience! Pass the suntan lotion please, and another gin and tonic by the poolside! But, he he he, ho, ho, ho, we’re all in this together!

    I’m sure that there was a lot of study to come up with the “in this together” motto. Yale just did a study to determine what messages will convince you to get the vaccine when it is ready. Will you be more likely to respond to “you’re a science denier,” “you’re selfish,” or to shame, anger, embarrassment, fear, or guilt? They are working hard to figure out what propaganda will convince you the best.

  22. Bill Daniels says:

    The sainted Dr. Fauci, hero to all OTK’ers, says it’s OK to vote in person. This should settle the issue, because Fauci’s word is law, amirite, y’all? Now we don’t have to worry about mass mail in ballots. Problem. Solved.

    “Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor for the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, said this week that he sees “no reason” Americans should avoid voting in-person as long as social distancing guidelines are followed.

    “I think if carefully done, according to the guidelines, there’s no reason that I can see why that not be the case,” Fauci said of in-person voting during a National Geographic event that aired Thursday. “If you go and wear a mask, if you observe the physical distancing, and don’t have a crowded situation, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do that.””

  23. David Fagan says:

    Kanye West with Snoop Dogg as VP would win it all.

  24. voter_worker says:

    Jason Hochman, Allen Lichtman, who has correctly predicted every Presidential election from 1984 onward, is predicting a Trump loss based on his “keys” system. Certainly Trump is the only candidate for the Presidency who has been so unconfident in his own prospects that he would make an overt attempt to defame and disable the USPS.

  25. Flypusher says:

    The people trying to draw equivalence between political polling and epidemiology are grasping at microscopic straws. Charles approaches the polls properly here- he posts them all and doesn’t cherry pick.

  26. Manny says:

    Have my Biden sign up, plan to soon have a Biden/Harris sign up that will stay up for as long as they remain in office.

  27. David Fagan says:

    Put one out there for me too, Manny!
    WHOOP WHOOP 27 posts, three to go!

    Donald Harris president Boys! Kamala Trump VP!

Comments are closed.