Over the past several months, discussion of replacing Kamala Harris on the 2024 Democratic ticket has only increased as her approval ratings have now plummeted to the lowest level for a vice president in almost 30 years.
An NBC News survey conducted earlier this month and published found that just 32 percent of registered voters have a positive view of Harris compared to 49 percent who have a negative view, leaving a net negative rating of -17 points, or “the lowest for any vice president in the poll’s history,” the outlet reported.
Thirty-nine percent of those polled claimed to have a “very negative” opinion of Harris. According to the publication, Harris has the lowest popularity rating of any vice president since 1995, when Al Gore served as Bill Clinton’s vice president.
All of this has increased debate and rumors that President Joe Biden must remove her and replace her with someone who is much more liked and who would, in the eyes of the Democratic Party, be a considerably more successful president.
“The perception that (Biden) will not be mentally fit enough to carry out the demands of the job may be unfair, but that perception is clearly held by a majority of voters, including Democrats and Independents,” wrote Tom Rogers, editor-at-large for Newsweek.
But he went on to write that Biden, despite his own low approval ratings and questions about his viability and health, could likely still win — without Harris.
The White House is aware that Harris is a liability. Officials within the administration “are rushing to the aid of Vice President Kamala Harris to try to shore up her underwhelming poll numbers heading into 2024,” Axios reported in April.
“Officials believe that could make her a drag on the ticket as Biden begins a reelection campaign that likely will boil down to a few tight states,” the report added, noting that there is an effort underway to dramatically improve her image.
Anita Dunn, one of the most prominent figures within the West Wing, has recently instructed the White House political and engagement teams to collaborate in organizing events featuring Harris to advocate for key Democratic initiatives like infrastructure spending and abortion rights, Axios noted, adding:
This is a huge shift from much of Biden’s first two years, when there was mutual distrust and anonymous sniping between the vice president’s team and the West Wing.
Harris, initially saddled by Biden with no-win issues such as immigration and a stalled voting-rights bill, has frustrated many of his top aides. She has suffered frequent staff turnover, and rarely has been entrusted with high-profile assignments.
U.S. News & World Report, meanwhile, noted that the White House has a “backup plan” for Biden, who appears to be aging rapidly, that involves shoring up Harris.
The strategy aims to provide voters with a firsthand glimpse of what it would be like to have not only the first woman but also the first woman of color as the nation’s leader.
But would Biden actually replace Harris? Not likely, say experts.
“Harris has her critics within the White House and those around Biden. The relationship between the president and vice president has been described as friendly but not intimate. Even so, the political cost of replacing Harris, if the thought ever crossed Biden’s mind, would far outweigh any gain,” Mark Barabak wrote in a column for the L.A. Times in February.
“Effectively firing the first female, first Black, and first Asian American vice president would risk a serious backlash from the Democratic base — especially Black women, who were crucial to Biden’s election,” he added.
Things are so bad at the White House that some are speculating that Biden may not even run in 2024.
“When is the optimal time for Biden to drop out of the race?” says the headline of a recent op-ed in The Hill by Douglas MacKinnon, who wrote speeches for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
MacKinnon went on to say that he’s hearing from “a number of Democrats — including staunch supporters of the president” that they’re “nervous” and “uncomfortable” about Biden running for reelection.