California Senator Kamala Harris announced her run for president on 27th January 2019, supporting progressive policies such as national healthcare, federal cannabis legalisation, emigration reform and tax policy reforms. Her tax policy is a big part of her campaign; Harris has stated her intention to raise taxes on the largest corporations to fund large tax cuts for middle class Americans. Senator Harris has a strong history in politics and law, previously serving as District Attorney for San Francisco, and Attorney General for California. However Harris has also faced strong criticism as a result of this history, the fact that she didn’t prosecute some guilty banks despite evidence of misconduct prior the 2008 financial crisis, and her efforts to pursue minor crimes that effect America’s poorest are often cited by those that disapprove of her campaign.
Harris delivered a good performance in the first democratic debate however, silencing the debate when it descended into a shouting match and managed to talk extensively on climate, immigration, economic and gun policy, gaining large applause from the audience. However it was her holding to account of the political history of Joe Biden that really allowed Harris to shine in this debate criticising his handling of school integration issues in the 1970s, which she was personally involved in as a child. This really solidified the opinion that Harris would be a good candidate to hold Donald Trump to account for many people, and allowed Harris to ascend to third place in approval ratings after the debates, according to a Morning Consult survey.
The second debate proved more difficult for Harris however, she attempted to reiterate similar points to the first debate and even successfully pulled Joe Biden up on his attempted dodge of Kirsten Gillibrand’s questions about Biden’s stance on pay equality for women, but she ultimately fell-prey to attacks on her record as a prosecutor in California. Joe Biden was the first to attack Harris’ healthcare plan, but following a question from a moderator to clarify her stance on desegregation, something she accused Biden of failing on in the last debate, Biden turned the argument around to Harris’ failures, even encouraging viewers to Google them. This opened the door for others, most notably Tulsi Gabbard, who listed many scandals surrounding Harris’ time as the District Attorney for San Francisco, one of which involved Harris withholding evidence that could have freed an innocent man from death row. Kamala Harris' ratings in opinion polls subsequently dropped, with some organisations, such as Quinnipiac, reporting a loss of 7%, Harris' performance being widely recognised as the worst of the night.