Is this how much the country rates Kamala Harris?

If President Joe Biden is unable to continue fulfilling his duties as president either within the next nine months or after the general election if he manages reelection, Vice President Kamala Harris is legally next in line to take over the Oval Office. However, Harris has extremely low approval ratings that make her an untenable alternative to Biden and could throw a wrench in Democrat plans to hold onto the White House.  

There is also a possibility, as floated by Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning, that the Democratic Party could attempt to shuttle Harris into a Supreme Court position, leaving the path to the Democratic nomination open for another candidate. 

From a public approval stance, Harris has huge problems when it comes to trust in her ability to perform the duties of the presidency, even though she is legally next in line to do so now. Her approval ratings have remained low since Biden took office, and they have not improved. 

A recent Morning Consult poll finds Americans say 51% to 37% that if Biden is unable to fulfill the duties of the presidency, they would not trust in Harris to do so. While it is a slim margin, what stands out is the vast share of the country who places almost no trust in Harris, compared to those who place a great deal of trust in her. A full 42% of the country says they don’t trust Harris ‘much at all’ to handle the duties of the presidency, compared to just 26% who trust Harris ‘a lot’.  

Core constituencies of the Democratic Party trust Harris more than the GOP does, but she still struggles with these groups, many of which trust her not ‘much at all’ according to the poll. For example, college-educated voters who generally skew Democrat distrust Harris’s ability to handle the White House. A full 40% of college-educated voters do not trust Harris ‘much at all’ to handle the job of president, while just 24% trust her ‘a lot’.  

Among upper income voters, again a group which skews Democrat, 39% of voters trust Harris ‘not much at all’ to handle the duties of the White House, compared to 32% who trust her ‘a lot’. 

The same poll finds Harris has a negative approval rating, with 46% of voters saying they have an unfavorable view of her compared to 39% who have a favorable view. Unfortunately for Harris, those with an unfavorable view feel so strongly – a full 42% of the country has a strongly unfavorable view of Harris.   

Harris suffers from extremely low public trust ratings and would make a largely unpopular president should anything prevent Biden from completing his duties as president. 

This fact has prevented Democrats from shuttling Biden aside and replacing him with Harris as the Democratic nominee for president despite growing concerns about Biden’s mental and physical capacity. This leaves Democrats in a conundrum – they have banked their hopes of retaining the White House on Biden, and Kamala does not offer a viable alternative. 

As ALG President Rick Manning recently mused, it is possible the Democratic Party will attempt to shuttle Kamala onto the Supreme Court, clearing a path for Former First Lady Michelle Obama to, possibly, run for president. 

Ms. Obama is broadly popular as a former first lady, with 60% of the country holding a favorable view of her, while just 26% dislike her according to recent YouGov data. However, popularity as a former first lady is one metric, and does not necessarily translate to trust in her abilities to fulfill the duties of the presidency.  

Among Democrats, there is evidence that Ms. Obama is seen as a better alternative to both Biden and Harris. One early January poll by Noble Predictive Insights found that Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents would favor a Michelle Obama presidency over a Joe Biden presidency by 4 points, 24% to 20%. Harris came in with just 7% of the vote. However, there are no large-scale polls looking at how Ms. Obama would fair against Trump – yet. 

Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation. 

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