As Americans fire up the grill, dust off the cornhole board and watch the fireworks this Fourth of July, there’s one inescapable discussion to be had over hamburgers and hotdogs: who will take on Donald Trump in 2020?
It’s never been more likely that person will be a woman. A record six female candidates have entered the race for the Democratic presidential nominee, and polls following the first round of debates show two women in particular on the rise: Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.
Warren, 70, is a Massachusetts Senator and academic with solid plans for economic equality across America, and an incredible rags-to-riches story: the daughter of an Oklahoma janitor, she became a law school professor.
But if the Democratic party does elect a woman to go head-to-head with Trump next year, it seems more likely to be Harris, 54, a California senator, the state’s former Attorney-General, and an ex-prosecutor. Why? Because according to a poll, 82% of Democratic voters believe the top priority when choosing a presidential candidate for 2020 is if the person can beat Trump – and so far Harris has made the most convincing case.
Her fearlessness and tenacity opposite old, powerful men was evident in the first round of Democratic debates when Harris took on Joe Biden, former US Vice-President and currently the front-runner for winning the Democratic candidacy. In what became the most viral moment of the two nights of debate, Harris was fierce, yet composed and focused, as she confronted Biden about his record on race.
In the days following that moment, CNBC reported:
“Harris’ average support jumped to 14.7% on Wednesday, up from 7% on June 25, the day before the two-day debate started. An average of 27.2% of respondents supported Biden as of Wednesday, a drop from 32.1% on June 25.”
And she isn’t slowing down. Harris might be spending Independence Day relaxing with family and friends, but the day before, she was ruthlessly taking on Donald Trump, calling him out as a predator as she spoke at an event in Iowa.
“I took on successfully and I prosecuted the big banks when they preyed on homeowners,” Harris said.
“I prosecuted the pharmaceutical companies when they preyed on seniors. I have prosecuted transnational criminal organisations when they preyed on women and children. I know predators, and we have a predator living in the White House.”
Harris said Trump has a “predatory nature and predatory instincts” and that predators “prey on the vulnerable,” the Des Moines Register reported.
“And the thing about predators,” she concluded, “you must, most importantly know, [is that] predators are cowards.”
I know predators and we have one living in the White House. pic.twitter.com/YKbUdTvvlW
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 3, 2019
Harris is smart. She knows voters want a leader they believe can take on and win against Trump, and she’s doing everything she can to prove she’s tough enough.
There’s no doubt Harris could run circles around Trump in a debate, as could Warren and some of the other female candidates, such as Kirsten Gillibrand and Tulsi Gabbard. The question is, are American voters still hurting from 2016, when Hillary Clinton, running against Trump, faced sexist double-standards and extra scrutiny based on the fact she’s a woman? Are they afraid that electing a female Democratic nominee could see Trump win again?
It’s certainly a concern. As The New York Times reported this week:
“Privately, Democratic strategists, candidates and officials say they’ve been alarmed by how deeply doubts about female electability have taken hold. In polling, interviews and focus groups, a portion of the party’s voters suggest they’re eager to see a woman on the ticket but fear that putting her in the top slot could cost them the White House — again. The question comes up frequently in early primary states, including at events organized for female voters.
However, it seems for many Democratic supporters gender is not a big concern – but they believe it is for others. A poll found 74% of Democratic voters said they would vote for a female president, but 33% think their neighbours would not.
Sounds like they need to give their neighbours – and the candidates – more credit.