Update: Kamala Harris dropped out of the 2020 presidential race on December 3, 2019.
Who is Kamala Harris?
Current job: US Senator from California. Running for president of the United States as a Democratic candidate.
Family: Harris is married to lawyer Douglas Emhoff. She has two stepchildren.
Hometown: Oakland, California
Political party: Democratic
Previous jobs: Attorney General of California from 2011 to 2017. San Francisco District Attorney from 2004 to 2011.
Who is Kamala Harris’ direct competition for the nomination?
Based on a recurring series of national surveys we conduct, we figured out who the other candidates competing in Kamala Harris’ lane are, and who the broader opponents are within the party.
- The average Harris-satisfied respondent said they were satisfied with 4.6 other candidates, which is the fourth-lowest number of rivals for a candidate in the race. That’s fine good: it means that people who like her tend to be narrowing down their choices, if still fairly openminded. Only 5 percent of her supporters said they were satisfied with Harris and Harris alone.
- Warren is the most-favored candidate among Harris supporters, to the extent that is may cause her significant problems. About three-quarters of Harris supporters would also be satisfied with Warren. That’s almost 15 points higher than Warren’s performance among Democrats as a whole.
- Biden is a strong candidate overall, and Harris voters are predisposed towards the former Vice President and they’ll be competing for many of the same voters. Over three in five Harris supporters were also satisfied with Biden, which is better than the former Veep’s overall performance among Democrats.
- Business Insider
- Sen. Cory Booker: While many of Harris’ fellow senators overlap with her considerably, Booker sees broad support among Harris voters. While Harris fans were, for instance, less likely to favor Sen. Amy Klobuchar than your typical half of Harris voters would also be satisfied with Booker as nominee.
INSIDER has been conducting a recurring poll through SurveyMonkey Audience on a national sample to find out how different candidate’s constituencies overlap. We ask people whether they are familiar with a candidate, whether they would be satisfied or unsatisfied with that candidate as nominee, and sometimes we also ask whether they think that person would win or lose in a general election against President Donald Trump.
What are Kamala Harris’ policy positions?
- On healthcare:
- Harris originally said she supported Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill, but in August 2019 announced she was “not comfortable” with it.
- She’s said she’d be open to a public option, rather than a single-payer system. She’s introduced legislation to expand mental health care and to reduce racial disparities in maternal mortality.
- In July 2019, Harris laid out her proposal to allow the federal government set prices for certain prescription medications in order to lower drug costs for American patients.
- She’s also laid out her healthcare plan, a form of “Medicare for All” which maintains a large role for private insurers while expanding the program to cover more Americans. It has a ten-year phase-in period.
- On immigration:
- Harris wants to “reexamine” and potentially overhaul the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). But while serving as San Francisco’s DA, she supported a city policy that turned undocumented immigrant minors over to ICE if they were arrested or believed to have committed a felony.
- Harris supports the Obama administration’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program, which protects young people who come to the US illegally as children.
- Harris co-sponsored the REUNITE Act to reunify separated migrant families, and has introduced legislation to increase oversight at immigrant detention centers and end the construction of new facilities. She’s also introduced a bill that would limit ICE’s ability to take actions harmful to unaccompanied migrant children.
- She opposes Trump’s border wall, which she’s called a “medieval vanity project.”
- On climate change:
- In February 2019, Harris signed on to the Green New Deal resolution, which aims to transition the US to 100% clean and renewable energy in 10 years, and stimulate the economy with millions of new jobs and an expanded social safety net.
- As attorney general, she investigated whether ExxonMobil lied about its research on climate change. She has a 100% lifetime score, based on her voting record, from the League of Conservation Voters.
- In September 2019, Harris laid out her climate plan to make the US carbon-neutral by 2045, which would cost $10 trillion in private and public investment. She said she’d direct the Department of Justice to prosecute fossil fuel companies.
- She supports a tax on carbon and suggested she’d allow states to decide whether they use nuclear energy.
- On campaign finance:
- Like a growing number of Democrats, Harris no longer takes donations from corporate political action committees, as of April 2018. Nearly 65% of Harris’ campaign funding between 2015 and 2018 came from individual donors who gave more than $200, according to OpenSecrets, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics. Just under 5% has come from corporate PACs.
- On abortion:
- Harris supports the right to an abortion and voted against a bill in the Senate that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Harris grilled Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on his position on abortion during his 2018 confirmation hearing.
- In May 2019, Harris proposed requiring states that have attempted to restrict abortion rights to receive approval from the Justice Department before they implement new abortion-related laws.
- On paid leave:
- Harris’ broad paid leave plan includes giving new parents and other caregivers up to six months of paid time off work. She did not specify how much the plan would cost or precisely how she’d pay for it.
- On LGBTQ rights:
- Harris supports legalized same-sex marriage and did not defend California’s law that prohibited gay marriage while she was the state’s attorney general.
- She supported transgender individuals’ right to use the bathroom of their choice during her time as attorney general. But she requested that the government not move forward with providing a prison inmate a gender reassignment surgery.
- As DA, she created a Hate Crimes unit to prosecute crimes against LGBTQ youth.
- On education:
- Harris has signed on to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ College For All Act, which would waive tuition for all students attending public colleges and universities whose families make $125,000 a year or less.
- She supports expanding some early childhood education programs and implementing national universal pre-kindergarten.
- In her first major campaign policy proposal, Harris put forth a plan in March 2019 to dramatically raise teacher pay across the country, giving the average teacher a $13,500 salary boost. The plan would cost $300 billion over a decade.
- On guns:
- Harris supports a ban on assault weapons and on the sale of high-capacity magazines.
- As attorney general, she initiated a state-wide gun sweep that confiscated weapons from those who had them illegally.
- If elected, Harris has promised to push for a law that would allow Americans to request that a federal court restrict an individual’s access to a gun if they’ve showed potential to commit domestic terrorism.
- On criminal justice reform:
- Harris introduced the 2018 “Access to Counsel Act,” which would guarantee detained migrants access to an attorney.
- She co-sponsored the 2018 Marijuana Justice Act, which would end the federal prohibition on marijuana. She supports clearing nonviolent marijuana-related charges from individuals’ records.
- Harris supports a moratorium on the death penalty under federal law, calling executions “immoral, discriminatory, ineffective, and a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars.” But as president, Harris would have no authority over the vast majority of executions, which are carried out by states.
- Harris introduced a bill to encourage states to reform or replace their cash bail system. She also co-sponsored a federal anti-lynching bill that passed the Senate in 2018.
- Some of the most impactful and controversial actions Harris took as a district attorney and attorney general:
- Pursued state legislation that threatened to prosecute parents of habitually truant elementary school kids.
- Did not pursue the death penalty for the man who killed a California police officer, and appealed a federal judge’s ruling that California’s death penalty was unconstitutional.
- Opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana before reversing course in 2018. (In 2015, she called for an end to the federal ban on medical marijuana, but she did not support legalization of recreational use until 2018.)
- Defended the convictions of dozens of individuals even after they were proven innocent.
- Fought prison releases after a federal court found unconstitutional overcrowding in California’s prisons.
- Harris unveiled a broad set of criminal justice policies, including creating national standards for police conduct, lowering the prison population, raising standards for the treatment of prisoners, ending mandatory minimum sentencing, and abolishing private prisons.
- Harris presented her criminal justice reform plan at the September Democratic debate as one that would greatly reform the system and vowed to achieve it: “My plan is about making sure that in America’s criminal justice system, we de-incarcerate women and children, that we end solitary confinement and that we work on keeping families intact. And as President of the United States, knowing the system from the inside, I will have the ability to be an effective leader and get this job complete.”
- On trade:
- Harris opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump withdrew the US from in 2017, arguing that the deal wasn’t transparent and would have hurt California’s environmental protection efforts.
- Harris is opposed to Trump’s trade war with China and his tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU, Canada, and Mexico. But she has accused China of engaging in “unfair industrial policies and outright theft of American intellectual property.”
- At the September Democratic debate, Harris slammed Trump on trade with a reference from a classic movie: “Donald Trump in office on trade policy, you know, he reminds me of that guy in “The Wizard of Oz,” you know, when you pull back the curtain, it’s a really small dude?”
- On foreign policy:
- She supports a “political solution” to the war in Afghanistan and wants to end US military involvement in the country. She voted against a Senate resolution condemning Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from Syria.
- She opposed Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. She’s said that Trump “got punked” by Kim Jong-un of North Korea.
- She is opposed to US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen because Congress never approved American involvement in the conflict.
- Harris is a strong supporter of the Israeli government’s close ties to the US, calling the bond between the two countries “unbreakable.” She told a 2017 gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that she would “do everything in my power to ensure broad and bipartisan support for Israel’s security and right to self-defense.”
- On taxes:
- Harris has introduced her LIFT the Middle Class Act, which would give a $3,000 refundable tax credit to individuals making $50,000 or less, and a $6,000 credit to couples making $100,000 or less. She would get rid of some cuts in Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to help pay for it. The plan would cost $2.8 trillion over a decade.
- She criticized the GOP tax cuts of 2017 as a “middle-class tax hike to line the pockets of already wealthy corporations and the 1%.”
- On housing:
- In July 2019, Harris proposed providing up to 4 million black families whose neighborhoods have historically been redlined, or discriminated against, with up to $25,000 to help them buy a home.
What are Kamala Harris’ political successes?
- She extracted $25 billion from Wall Street to compensate California homeowners following the financial crisis.
- She won a $1.1 billion settlement against a for-profit college chain for their predatory and illegal practices.
- She’s become well-known as voice of the anti-Trump resistance. She’s endorsed a host of progressive policies, including Medicare for All and overhauling the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
- As AG, Harris prioritized the prosecution of transnational gangs and weapons, drugs, and human traffickers.
How much money has Kamala Harris raised?
Harris’ campaign raised $12 million in the first quarter of 2019 and $11.8 million from 279,000 in the second quarter. In the third quarter of 2019, she raised $11.6 million – less than half of what Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren raised in the same period.
Could Kamala Harris beat President Trump?
Referring back to INSIDER’s recurring poll, Kamala Harris overall is believed to be a stronger candidate in a general election against Donald Trump than your typical Democrat.
While it’s still quite early and many remain unsure about the general election, about two in five voting Democrats think Harris would win in the general election, while about 3 in 10 think she would lose. That is better than the average Democratic nominee according to INSIDER’s survey.
Among all respondents, Harris is on par with your typical Democrat.
How was Kamala Harris viewed by voters compared to the competition?
Insider has conducted a number of other polls to check in on how these candidates are perceived in comparison to one another. When we asked respondents to one poll to rank how far to the left or to the right they considered the candidates, Harris was generally considered to be one of the most left-leaning candidates in the field, somewhat in contrast to her prosecutorial history but plausibly owing to a push from her campaign to appeal to left-leaning voters. Harris was among the more experienced candidates in the field when we asked respondents to rank the candidates based on how prepared they are for the rigors of the presidency given what they knew about their history of public service and experience with government. And when asked how likable or personable respondents perceived the candidates to be, Harris was in the top five.
How did Democratic voters feel about Kamala Harris’s qualifications?
Insider has conducted polling about how voters feel about candidate attributes or qualifications. We asked respondents about a list of possible qualifications and if they made them more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate for president.
For example, among respondents who said they’d vote in the Democratic primary, 19% said a candidate being a college professor made them likelier to support them, while 4% said it made them less likely to, for a +15% net favorability. We can then see how different candidates’ resumes stack up compared to those preferences.
Attributes perceived as most valuable include her released tax returns (+43%), position in the Senate (+40%), status as a child of immigrants (+21%), and past as an attorney general (+13%), district attorney (+7%) and lawyer (+3%).
Attributes considered to be a liability based on the preferences of self-reported Democratic voters include her history as a prosecutor (-1%) and that she grew up wealthy (-42%).
Read more of our best stories on Kamala Harris:
- Kamala Harris’ record as a ‘progressive prosecutor’ is facing renewed scrutiny
- Kamala Harris kicks off her 2020 campaign with a massive rally in Oakland
- What you need to know about Kamala Harris and her 2020 presidential bid
- Chris Hayes says Kamala Harris is ‘underpriced’ for 2020 and no candidate is too far-left to be president
- Kamala Harris is flailing after Joe Biden entered the race, so she’s pivoting left and punching at Trump to widen her appeal
- ‘You owe them an apology’: Tulsi Gabbard ripped into Kamala Harris at the Democratic debate over her controversial record on criminal justice
- Kamala Harris is learning that being a frontrunner in a crowded field means everyone’s coming for you