Democratic presidential candidates former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (AP/Getty/Salon)

Kamala Harris doubles her national support after standout performance in first Democratic debate

The increase in support for Harris comes at the expense of former VP Joe Biden, who falls by 5 percentage points

Matthew Rozsa
July 1, 2019 1:36PM (UTC)

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., doubles her national support after a standout performance during the first Democratic presidential debate.

The latest Morning Consult poll, which was taken from the closing of Thursday night's debate through the following Friday, found that Harris' support among Democrats increased from 6 percent prior to the event to 12 percent at its close. As a result, Harris is now tied in third place with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who also had 12 percent support after the debate. Warren fell a statistically negligible 1 percent since the previous survey, which had her at 13 percent.


The increase in support for Harris comes at the expense of former Vice President Joe Biden, who falls from 38 percent prior to the debate to 33 percent after it was over. The runner up, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., finds his level of support stay at exactly the same rate. He was at 19 percent prior to the debate and remained there after it was over. The fifth place slot belongs to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who fell by a statistically negligible 1 percent, from 7 percent prior to the debate to 6 percent after it was over.

That said, Sanders is the only prominent candidate who saw his favorability rating drop after the debate was over. Others see a decline but within the poll's five-point margin of error. Only 67 percent of Democratic primary voters in the new Morning Consult poll say they have a favorable view of Sanders, down from 74 percent in the previous poll.

Perhaps the standout moment from the pair of Democratic debates — the large number of candidates prompted party leaders to split the debates into two nights — was when Harris called out Biden for his past opposition to school busing, a policy she said she directly benefited from as a child.


"It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country," Harris told Biden. "And it was not only that: You also worked with them to oppose busing."

She added, "There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. That little girl was me. So, I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly."

Biden replied, "I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education." His response contradicts what he told the Washington Post at the time, when he insisted that while he did not want to be lumped in with segregationists like George Wallace, he was opposed to the idea of school busing in principle.


"I oppose busing. It’s an asinine concept, the utility of which has never been proven to me. I’ve gotten to the point where I think our only recourse to eliminate busing may be a constitutional amendment," Biden told the Post in 1975.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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