A recent survey shows Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris, who was elected as California’s U.S. senator in 2016 landslide victory, is having a difficult time gaining voter support in California.
According to a September survey from the Public Policy Institute of California, the state’s Democratic presidential primary, to be held on March 3, 2020, is a three-way race between Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Harris trailed in fourth place, landing at 8% in September polls. This is a visible decrease since July 2019 polling, in which she ranked in first place with 19%.
For some students at USC, the issue for Harris seems to be her inconsistencies in her positions on major policy issues like prison sentence reform and the death penalty.
A few weeks ago, students filled the Wallis Annenberg Hall forum to watch the top 10 Democratic primary candidates go head to head in their third debate. Applause erupted from the student audience as debate moderator and ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis questioned Harris on her record as attorney general.
“Her track record shows that she’s gone back and forth on issues and voted for and against them to appease her audience,” said sophomore Sydney Ross, a member of USC College Democrats.
USC senior Ted Wint said, “on issues like that [sentencing reform], I think consistency is very important, especially when you’re dealing with actual lives and whether they get put away for a long time.”
Panelists at the Annenberg watch party for the Democratic debate conducted hand-raising surveys to gauge which candidates are gaining the most preliminary student support. Of the top Democratic primary candidates, Warren was far ahead of her opponents in terms of the support of the audience of that day.
That sentiment seems to be nationwide. The New York Times reported two weeks ago that Warren and Sanders are gaining national support among millennial and Gen Z voting blocs. At a Sanders rally at the University of Iowa, students expressed interest and enthusiasm for the policy positions set forth by Sanders and Warren. Student Eliza Link, 18, in explaining her attraction to Sanders and Warren, told the New York Times that “they’re both the cool aunt and uncle of the political race right now.”
Some USC students said they still have hope in Harris.
Wint said that having voted for Harris for California senator in 2016 makes him more comfortable potentially voting for her in the 2020 general election. Wint did not comment on whether he thought the senator’s representation of California increased the likelihood of him voting for her in the Democratic primary. He believes the senator has done a good job attempting to explain her record as a prosecutor in her presidential campaign, but, he still has some reservations.