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Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren Surge in Democratic Primary Poll

Two women candidates are rising to the top of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People hosted by the Center for the American Progress Action Fund and the SEIU at the Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Image Credit: Cage Skidmore/Flickr)
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People hosted by the Center for the American Progress Action Fund and the SEIU at the Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Image Credit: Cage Skidmore/Flickr)

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s poll numbers took a hit after last week’s Democratic presidential primary debate, with two women contenders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, rising after stellar performances in the event.

Biden remains atop the CNN/SRSS poll conducted after the two Democratic debates last week and released on Monday, but his lead is now precarious. The former vice president has the support of 22 percent of registered Democratic and Democrat-leaning voters, while Harris and Warren have more than doubled their numbers, rising to 17 and 15 percent respectively.

While Biden saw a 10 percent drop in support from May, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has also fallen in the polls, to 4 percent. But Buttigieg, who has fashioned himself as a pragmatic centrist in the race, is gaining support from prominent Democratic bundlers, raising an impressive $24.8 million in the second quarter of this year. Harris raised $2 million in the 24 hours after last week’s debate. Her post-debate boom is more likely to be reflected in third-quarter fundraising.

The top four candidates—Biden, Harris, Warren, and Bernie Sanders—all have comparable support among white voters. But there are stark differences in support from black voters, who are a critical constituency in the Democratic party, especially in the south. Biden remains top among black voters, 12 points above Harris at 36 percent. But Harris’s support among black voters is rising, thanks in part to her challenging Biden on his opposition to school desegregation busing. Sanders hasn’t quite resonated with black voters and Buttigieg has had a rocky relationship with the South Bend black community, stemming from his response to the fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer and firing of the city’s first black police chief. A Quinnipiac poll released today puts Buttigieg’s support among blacks at zero percent.

Harris may experience deferred support from black voters in the same way then-Senator Barack Obama did in 2008. Initially, black voters remained loyal to the Clinton brand, opting for the candidate they perceived to be the stronger horse. But the tide turned in Obama’s favor once he demonstrated his viability as a candidate. Should Harris overtake Biden in support from black voters, she may rise to the top among all likely Democratic voters.

Arif Rafiq is the editor of Globely News and host of The Pivot podcast. He's contributed to publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the New Republic, and POLITICO Magazine, and has appeared on broadcast outlets such as Al Jazeera English, the BBC World Service, CNN International, and National Public Radio. Rafiq is also a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC.

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