How Kamala Harris Changed The Fundraising Game & Biden’s Ratings

Apart from the African American vote, Harris could help get the votes of suburban women, Latinos & Indian Americans.

Updated
Opinion
5 min read
Image of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden used for representational purposes.
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(This story was originally published on 18 August 2020 and is being republished from The Quint's archives in the light of the vice presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence scheduled for Thursday, 7 October, ahead of the US elections.)

The Democrats raised USD 48 million in 48 hours after Joe Biden, the presumptive presidential nominee, named Senator Kamala Devi Harris as his running mate.

That’s called a major uptick in fundraising ahead of the Democratic Party Convention, which began Monday night in virtual mode. The two will formally accept the nomination during the four-day event. No balloons will drop in real life – the pandemic has sucked life out of pretty much everything.

Harris, as the first woman of African and Indian descent to be named VP of a major party, has clearly energised supporters as the face of a multi-racial America. She is tomorrow to Biden’s yesterday, and the voters get it.

In a historic pick, Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris to be his Vice-President nominee in the 2020 US election.
In a historic pick, Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris to be his Vice-President nominee in the 2020 US election.
(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

African Americans Are Elated That A Black Woman Is Finally On The Ticket

The baton is passing from white men to women and people of colour. It is unlikely that the Democrats will have an all-male, all-white ticket in the future. Republicans may change by 2024, but this time around they are having a hard time expanding their coalition beyond the hardcore base.

Besides accelerating fundraising, Harris has also caused a surge in Biden’s popularity.

Even though he has consistently led in the polls since the summer by an average of 6 to 9 percentage points over President Donald Trump, his VP choice seems to have added a certain je ne sais quoi.

African Americans, the most loyal Democratic Party voters and essential to a Biden victory, are elated that finally a black woman is on the ticket.

It didn’t come on a platter but after some mild ultimatums by Jim Clyburn, the South Carolina Congressman who brought back Biden’s campaign from the brink of disaster by activating African Americans during the primaries.

Joe Biden’s campaign said he will focus on H-1B visa system and focus on eliminating country-quota for Green Cards.
Joe Biden’s campaign said he will focus on H-1B visa system and focus on eliminating country-quota for Green Cards.
Photo: Twitter/@JoeBiden)
Snapshot
  • African Americans, the most loyal Democratic Party voters and essential to a Biden victory, are elated that finally a black woman is on the ticket.
  • Apart from the African American vote, Harris is expected to help get the votes of ‘suburban women’, Latinos, and of course, Indian Americans.
  • The ‘prediction markets’ too think Harris was a good choice.
  • Since Harris’s nomination has clearly helped with fundraising, the Democrats have begun spending more on ads.
  • Even though Trump began collecting funds right from 2017 on – days after he entered the White House – and had a huge head start, Biden has caught up.

For The First Time, Biden’s Team Outspent Trump On Facebook Ads

Apart from the African American vote, Harris is expected to help get the votes of ‘suburban women’, Latinos, and of course, Indian Americans.

A new poll by Yahoo News/YouGov out Monday showed Biden leading Trump by 11 points, the highest lead thus far, and one delivered by his VP choice. Trump’s attacks on Harris as a “nasty woman” and questions about her eligibility to run appear to be backfiring among women voters – 50 percent said the attacks showed the president was a sexist.

In a CNN poll conducted after the announcement, 52 percent of registered voters called Harris an excellent or a very good pick, including 82 percent of Democrats. Another poll by The Washington Post and ABC News found 54 percent approval for Harris as a vice presidential nominee with 86 percent of the Democrats approving.

Trump and Biden are both working to appease the Indian-American voter-base of 1.3 million as the run for the next US President heats up. 
Trump and Biden are both working to appease the Indian-American voter-base of 1.3 million as the run for the next US President heats up. 
(Photo: The Quint)

The ‘prediction markets’ too think Harris was a good choice. The biggest such market based in New Zealand raised Biden’s chances of winning by two percentage points to 61 percent, and dropped Trump’s re-election chances by the same figure to 39 percent.

Since Harris’s nomination has clearly helped with fundraising, the Democrats have begun spending more on ads.

For the first time, the Biden team outspent Trump on Facebook ads, buying USD 6.1 million worth of space in the week after the announcement.

Fundraising: Trump Had A Head Start, But Biden Has Caught Up

Harris comes from California – the wealthiest state in the country and home to Hollywood and Silicon Valley. It’s a state most courted for campaign funds by both parties. So far, Biden has raised USD 69 million and Trump USD 36 million from the ‘Golden State’ as sunny California is called.

Over time, Harris has built connections to wealthy donors who helped her raise USD 40 million for her own failed presidential bid.

Before Biden even picked Harris, she was already busy organising fundraisers for him in California and introducing him to her network, including Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple. Harris’ rolodex is clearly weighty.

Then there are rich Indian American Democrats who are expected to get into the act soon with their USD 10,000-a-plate fundraisers to salute Kamala Harris over dosas and idlis. Messages are flying across the two coasts about raising money for the first Indian American candidate as VP.

Kamala Harris with her Indian-origin mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris.
Kamala Harris with her Indian-origin mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/ @mayaharris_)
Elections in democracies are increasingly more about money than ideas, because they are about interest groups seeking favours in exchange for funds.

Even though Trump began collecting funds right from 2017 on – days after he entered the White House – and had a huge head start, Biden has caught up. He had collected USD 295 million to Trump’s USD 300 million at the beginning of August. Kamala Harris brings fundraising prowess to the Democratic ticket.

(The writer is a senior Washington-based journalist. She can be reached at @seemasirohi. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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