With Kamala Harris Out of Presidential Race, Supporters May Move to Warren, Biden, Polling Suggests

Senator Kamala Harris ended her 2020 campaign Tuesday, leaving a noteworthy following up for grabs.

While polling indicates that she occupied a distinct lane as a progressive Democrat with a law-and-order disposition, it also showed that her supporters cannot be typecast so easily, begging the question: Which candidate will they follow next?

The answer: a centrist front-runner and an unabashed progressive.

A Morning Consult poll released Monday found that former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren could be the chief beneficiaries of Harris dropping out. Biden earned the second-choice designation with 22 percent of Harris supporters, while Warren was the second choice, with 21 percent of Harris supporters.

Another Morning Consult poll conducted in early October noted similar trends, with Warren receiving a plurality of Harris's support. Twenty-eight percent named Warren as their second choice. Biden, a markedly more centrist candidate than Warren, was the second-largest beneficiary, receiving 20 percent of Harris's supporters.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, perhaps Warren's most direct competitor, would receive the support of just 12 percent of Harris voters, a similar share as in the recent poll.

An earlier Pew Research Center survey backs the Warren-Biden split. Conducted in late July and early August, the survey found that 31 percent of Harris voters would choose Warren as their second-favorite candidate. Biden earned the next-highest share of Harris voters, at 24 percent.

That report also shed light onto why the Harris campaign failed to take off and how likely it is her supporters will commit themselves to the Democratic primary race. In the survey, Harris voters were the second-most likely to say that they are excited about "several candidates." Seventy-eight percent said so, whereas just 22 percent of Harris voters said they were exclusively excited about her.

Warren was the only other candidate measured in that question to receive a higher share of uncommitted voters. For supporters of candidates other than Harris, Sanders, Warren or Biden, the average share who were uncommitted was 68 percent, 10 points lower than the comparable share of Harris supporters.

"The lack of money was a result of the lack of electability, and Democrats are looking for someone who's electable at this point," Tim Malloy, a polling analyst for the Quinnipiac University poll, told Newsweek. "She was at 20 percent in June and is now down to 3 percent most recently. In the end, Democrats more than anything else are looking for someone who can beat Trump."

Harris enjoyed two distinct surges of popular support—in early February and in July, after a viral confrontation with Biden at the first Democratic debates. Toward the end of November, she managed to maintain a meager slot in the single digits, barely ahead of tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

While she may have placed consistently within the top five, Harris's position in the race appeared untenable for several reasons—financing chief among them—even though she was the sole person of color to qualify for the December Democratic debate thus far. She only held a 51 percent favorability rating within the Democratic Party and had a 23 percent unfavorability rating. Only two candidates—Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg—were viewed more unfavorably, and neither of them has so far qualified for the December debate.

Her campaign's inability to attract a sustained portion of the Democratic electorate, combined with fundraising challenges, contributed to Tuesday's decision to cease operations.

"To my supporters, it is with deep regret—but also with deep gratitude—that I am suspending my campaign today," she said in her announcement Tuesday on Twitter. "But I want to be clear with you: I will keep fighting every day for what this campaign has been about. Justice for the People. All the people."

Kamala Harris
Democratic presidential hopeful California Senator Kamala Harris speaks to the press in the Spin Room after participating in the fifth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia on November 20, 2019. Getty