Harris’ Approval Plummets: Can She Turn the Tide Before November?

Maxim Elramsisy / shutterstock.com
Maxim Elramsisy / shutterstock.com

Vice President Kamala Harris persists amidst criticism, attempting to tackle national issues like immigration and student loan debt forgiveness.

Rather than stepping back, Harris plows forward alongside President Joe Biden, preparing for what’s expected to be a fiercely contested general election against former President Donald Trump.

As the vice president serving under an older president and breaking barriers as the first woman and person of color in the role, Harris finds herself under intense scrutiny, facing criticism for everything from her demeanor to her policy decisions, such as her call for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel–Hamas conflict ahead of Biden.

Despite once holding marginally better approval ratings, recent attempts to boost her public image and a surge of more favorable media coverage have had little effect. Presently, her average approval rating hovers at a net negative 15 percentage points, with only 37% approval and a staggering 52% disapproval. In comparison, Biden’s net approval rating is slightly worse at negative 16 points, with 39% approval and 55% disapproval, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Despite her approval ratings plummeting to a dismal 35.9% this month, Harris’s highest disapproval rating of 56% has been downward since last August.

However, reshaping her public image proves to be an uphill battle, as critics like Republican strategist John Feehery continue questioning her communication skills despite recent staff changes to refine her messaging.

“I find Kamala Harris insincere and irrelevant,” Feehery remarked to the media. “No matter the efforts of her handlers to reinvent her image, she fails to connect with the American people.”

2024 Republican presidential contenders like former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Gov. Ron DeSantis have capitalized on Harris’s weaknesses, emphasizing her significance in the upcoming election, particularly given Biden’s age.

“While Joe Biden remains lackluster in his presidency, Kamala Harris is aggressively pushing her radical left-wing California agenda: from relaxed border controls to undermining America’s energy independence to defunding law enforcement,” observed Republican National Committee spokeswoman Anna Kelly. “The more she speaks, the more unpopular her ideas become, so we welcome her presence on the campaign trail and eagerly anticipate her socialist agenda being rejected by voters this fall.”

Over the past week, Harris has embarked on solo trips to Puerto Rico and Florida and accompanied Biden on a visit to North Carolina, engaging in a mix of official White House duties and political campaigning.

According to the White House’s Office of the Vice President, Harris has crisscrossed 16 states since the start of the year, undertaking 25 separate trips—a marked increase from last year’s 24-state tally. A third of those visits were tied to her “Fight for Our Freedoms” college tour. She’s embarking on her “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” tour, with stops in six states this year, including Minnesota, where she made headlines as the first vice president to visit a Planned Parenthood clinic.

During her visit to Parkland, Florida, last weekend, Harris’s announcement of plans for a national extreme risk protection order resource center at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School—the site of the 2018 school shooting—drew criticism from some, like Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter in the tragedy, alleging that her agenda is focused more on pushing gun control than ensuring school safety.

Moreover, her recent pledge of an additional $170 million to Guatemala to address migration root causes and her promotion of the SAVE student loan relief program have further fueled controversy and raised questions about her priorities.

Despite staunch support from Democrats, Harris’s tenure continues to be marred by skepticism, with critics questioning her effectiveness and authenticity. Vice presidential scholar Joel Goldstein acknowledged Harris’s challenges, noting her departure from the traditional mold, which contributed to resistance in certain circles.

As Harris navigates the turbulent waters of American politics, her ability to overcome mounting criticism and win over skeptical voters remains uncertain. Whether she can rise to the occasion and prove her detractors wrong remains to be seen.