Here’s how Kamala Harris performs in polls against Trump—as she emerges as most likely Biden replacement

Leadership

Vice President Kamala Harris is the most likely replacement for President Joe Biden if he drops his 2024 presidential bid, and while polls suggest the debate debacle appears to have dented Biden’s standing against former President Donald Trump, Harris doesn’t fare much better against the former president, and in some cases, performs worse.
30th annual ESSENCE Festival of Culture

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the 2024 ESSENCE Festival of Culture at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana on July 6, 2024 . (Photo by Christiana Botic for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The Washington Post via Getty Images

Key Takeaways
  • A flurry of polls conducted in the wake of the debate show Harris performs roughly the same as Biden against Trump (who has been leading the president by a slim margin for months), with some surveys showing Harris with a slight advantage to Biden and others showing Biden outperforming Harris in a hypothetical matchup with Trump.
  • Harris also polls better than other Democrats commonly floated as replacement candidates to Biden, if the election were held today, but the polls don’t factor in how months of campaigning could change voters’ perceptions of many of the lesser-known candidates that don’t have the benefit of national name recognition like Harris does.
  • Harris outperforms Biden, and three other potential candidates commonly floated to replace him, in a hypothetical matchup against Trump—but she would still lose to the former president by two points, according to a CNN/SSRS poll (margin of error 3.5) conducted June 28-30 that also found Biden would lose to Trump by six points.
  • YouGov poll conducted July 3-6 contradicts the CNN/SSRS findings: more Democrats and independents who lean Democrat prefer Biden over Harris as the nominee, 47% to 32%, while 21% said they weren’t sure (margin of error 4).
  • A Reuters/Ipsos poll released July 2 (margin of error 3.5) also found Harris would lose to Trump by one point, but Biden is tied with Trump, while four governors who have been floated as potential Biden replacements—Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker—all perform worse than both Biden and Harris against Trump.
  • Five Thirty Eight analysis of polls found Harris’ odds of winning the Electoral College over Trump are slightly better than Biden’s (38% versus 35%), but when various economic and political factors are incorporated, in addition to polls, Five Thirty Eight found Biden’s odds of winning swing states and the Electoral College against Trump are better than Harris’—48% to 31%.
  • Democratic polling firm Bendixen & Amandi found Harris beating the former president 42% to 41% (margin of error 3.1) in a survey released Tuesday and first obtained by Politico, while Biden, Whitmer and Newsom all trail Trump.

Big Number

2.1. That’s how many points Trump leads Biden by, according to Five Thirty Eight’s polling average, compared to 0.7 points on June 28, the day of the debate.

Surprising Fact

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who is not among the Democrats commonly floated as potential Biden replacements) would beat Trump by a slightly wider margin, 43% to 41%, according to the Bendixen & Amandi poll. When the poll tested Biden replacements with potential running mates, a ticket with Clinton at the top and Harris as the vice presidential nominee outperformed all other hypothetical Biden-replacement scenarios, showing them beating Trump 43% to 40%. Former First Lady Michelle Obama (another long-shot replacement prospect) would also far outperform Harris, Biden and other potential replacements against Trump, according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll that showed her leading Trump 50% to 39%.

What To Watch For

While Harris is the most likely replacement for Biden, some pundits and prominent Democrats have floated the idea of a “mini primary” if Biden drops out in which candidates could compete for Biden’s delegates through a series of high-profile party-sponsored events, such as debates and town halls.

Tangent

Harris has many upsides: she benefits from name recognition and she could seamlessly take over Biden’s $91 million campaign war chest since she’s already on his ticket. But she comes with some risks, including a string of unflattering reviews of her performance as vice president, reports of dysfunction in her office and relatively low approval ratings.

Key Background

Biden has refused calls to step aside in the race and has launched a clean-up effort to revive his candidacy in the wake of the debate, including sitting for a fresh round of media interviews, rallying his allies in Congress and publicly—and firmly—pushing back against calls for him to resign. The efforts appeared to be working somewhat on congressional Democrats as of Tuesday. Since returning to Washington Monday from their holiday recess, no additional lawmakers have called on Biden to step down and at least one, senior Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., walked back a call he reportedly made in private for Biden’s resignation in the race, telling reporters Tuesday the president’s insistence on staying in was a “dispositive.”’

This article is based on US dollars and does not reflect Australia’s currency.

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