The town hall for Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris was one for the record books as the California lawmaker brought in more views than any single candidate town hall has brought in before for the network.
As my colleague Brad Slager noted in his article…:
On January 28 CNN hosted a town hall for Senator Kamala Harris at 10:00 pm, and the hour long Q&A/campaign launch was ratings gold for the network. It was the easy winner over the news nets in the key-demographic Adults 25-54. Overall the broadcast netted almost 2 million viewers, the most ever for a single candidate on CNN. It led all of cable news in the demo for Monday, a 75% increase over its numbers for the past month.
This kind of attention being given to Harris is very interesting, especially paired with the fact that Democrats have been looking for a candidate that many believe better fits the role of new leader of the Democratic party.
Not long ago, polls released showing that the favored candidates for 2020 by Democrats to face off against Trump were Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Robert “Beto” O’Rourke. All well and good, with only one problem for a group of Democrats. They’re too white and too male.
Democrats were openly becoming angry about the fact that the proposed head of the Democratic party wasn’t female and/or of color.
“It’s almost like we’re moving backwards,” said one anonymous Democratic strategist. “We elected a black president in 2008 and 2012, we nominated a woman in 2016, so why are we now back with three white men at the top of the polls?”
Democratic strategist Seth Bringman added that it “definitely sends the wrong message about who our party is.”
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also expressed her disappointment to Van Jones on CNN about the party once again embracing white male candidates.
“In a party as diverse as ours, does it worry you to see the top three being white guys?” asked Jones
“Yes,” Gillibrand replied. “I aspire for our country to recognize the beauty of our diversity at some point in the future and I hope someday we have a woman president.”
Democrat voters must agree as Politico reports that according to its poll, Harris has ousted O’Rourke from his 3rd place spot and him now tied with Sen Elizabeth Warren
Over the course of four surveys this month, former Vice President Joe Biden has ranged between 26 percent and 33 percent among Democratic voters, roughly twice the support of the next candidate: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has been between 15 percent and 16 percent.
Harris is at 10 percent, up from 3 percent earlier this month. That puts her ahead of the next two candidates: former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), both of whom are at 6 percent in the poll. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is in sixth place, at 3 percent — while no other candidate earns more than 2 percent.
All of this seems great for Harris, but for the Democratic party’s chances in 2020, this could spell disaster.
Many Democrat’s may consider Harris’s qualifications for president being an issue of melanin levels and chromosomal makeup, but for everyone else, many of the positions Harris takes may be too radical for them.
As Brad Slager wrote, Harris revealed that she’s ready and willing to do away with private health insurance altogether under Sanders’s “Medicare for All” plan, of which she’s a co-signer. The blowback was so sudden and intense that Harris was rocked out of her position and forced to tell the public that she’d be open to more moderate forms of healthcare.
She takes other radical positions as well. She embraces Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s sweeping “Green New Deal.” She spoke about getting rid of “assault weapons” during her CNN town hall. She wants public funding for abortions and rejects the idea of notifying a parent if their minor is getting an abortion. She’s also proven to be a social justice adherent and isn’t afraid to inflame racial tensions as a way of getting at her enemies.
For an increasingly radically left Democratic party, this may make Harris a great choice. For the rest of America, this might be more leftist than they’d like. Even then, centrist Democrats may still vote for Harris simply for the benefit of her not being Trump, and having a D next to her name.
Or, at least, they would if not former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, whose team already seems to be banking on the fact that the Democrats will put someone like Harris on the general election stage. In fact, Schultz campaign advisor and former 2008 John McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt is betting on it.
“It seems that nobody who is speculating about that on Twitter has given any thought to the possibility that the Democratic Party nominates someone who is so far to the left that it guarantees Trump a reelection,” said Schmidt. “And at that point, the only person who would theoretically be able to stop Trump from a second term is a centrist candidacy of someone like Schultz.”
Schmidt is likely correct. If Democrats put Harris, or someone like her, behind their respective podium, 2020 is lost. Many Democrats and centrists aren’t likely going to follow the Democrats into their radical new positions. They’ll choose another route if they have to, and that route will likely be Schultz.
The Democrats are already showing that they’re more than ready to sink their 2020 ship in the name of identity politics with their sudden flock to Harris, and with Schultz around sopping up what remains of the exiled Democratic party, Trump may have his second term wrapped up nicely.