News broke Tuesday afternoon that Kamala Harris has dropped out of the presidential race, making her the first biggish name to call it quits since Beto O’Rourke skateboarded off into Texas obscurity last month. As some of have pointed out on Twitter (gleefully, at times), quitting before the Iowa primaries is a sad end for a candidate that many considered a potential frontrunner, including the likes of Nate Silver:
Ignore 99% of mainstream political commentary pic.twitter.com/hAlvzDr57v
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) December 3, 2019
And yet, the polls were abysmal, and getting worse all the time. After climbing as high as 20 percent nationally in some early summer polls, things got dismal in a hurry, and she hasn’t cracked five percent in a month.
As to why? Well, the larger truth is that there’s only room in a campaign like this for one “doesn’t offer anything compelling in the way of policy or national name recognition, is trying to sell personality/identity with nebulous uplifting rhetoric supported by weak tea centrism designed for privileged liberals who don’t really care about politics” candidate, and Mayor Pete won that battle. Harris was dogged from the start by the fact that leftists saw her as a cop, meaning she was never going to dig into the Warren/Sanders support. At the same time, she couldn’t make any inroads with black voters, either because of the “former prosecutor” angle that placed her in stark opposition to the #BlackLivesMatter sentiment or because Biden destroyed her in name recognition, depending on who you ask.
Where did that leave her? By trying to act tough in debates, as in her semi-famous clash with Biden:
WATCH: Kamala Harris’ impassioned criticism of Joe Biden on race and busing.
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) June 28, 2019
Twitter loved it, but in reality it didn’t take even a small bite out of Biden’s support or increase hers. After that, she was reduced to getting kneecapped by Tulsi Gabbard on criminal justice—a brutal moment she never saw coming—and laughing somewhat helplessly while Biden forgot that she was a senator. There was no traction to be had, and no substance left to defend—if indeed there had ever been any at all.
Her entire candidacy, and those who believed it had legs, was a misreading of the Democratic electorate for the start. Progressive policies are more popular than ever, and name recognition is more important than ever. Harris had neither, and though she fought hard to be an anomaly, she lost her steam with the end of summer and watched Mayor Pete take her place. It was a dreadful campaign—one without an anchor—and now it’s over.