Former Vice President Joe Biden’s horrible, no good, very bad debate Thursday night has taken a significant chunk out of his commanding lead as the Democratic Party front runner for the 2020 nomination. After a serious beating at the hands of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), his support among Democrats has dropped a full 10 points.
“The percentage of Democrats who say they would vote for former Vice President Joe Biden if the presidential race were held tomorrow slipped by 10 points after the first primary debate,” reported The Hill. “According to a Morning Consult/FiveThirtyEight poll of likely Democratic voters released on Friday, 41.5 percent said before the debates they would vote for Biden tomorrow, but 31.5 percent said the same thing after Thursday night’s debate.”
Kamala Harris’ role in Biden’s sink cannot be overstated. As Thursday night slowly encroached, she had one kill card in her deck to take him down and she played it hard when the debate commenced by condemning him for being insensitive on race relations over his opposition to school busing in the ’70s and for praising two white segregationists as examples in political civility.
“It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing,” Kamala Harris said on the debate stage Thursday night. “And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”
The moment earned the California U.S. Senator some serious street cred, making her the night’s winner according to various political pundits. In the polling, her move has paid dividends, bumping her support up a full 9 points, with now 16.6% of Democrats saying they would vote for her nomination. It stood at a meager 7.9% prior to Thursday.
Needless to say, Biden has some serious trouble on his hands and he will have to come out strong and forceful in the next debate (airing in late July) if he wants to maintain his lead, which will now undoubtedly be attacked from all sides, with Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) leading the charge. In a speech in Chicago at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition convention on Friday, Biden defended his civil rights record against Harris’ attack.
“I know and you know, I fought my heart out to ensure that civil rights and voting rights, equal rights are enforced everywhere,” Biden said at the Rev. Jesse Jackson-hosted event. “I want to be absolutely clear about my record and position on racial justice, including busing. I never, never, never ever opposed voluntary busing. And that’s a program that Senator Harris participated in, and it made a difference in her life.”
“I did support federal action to support root causes of segregation in our schools and our communities, including taking on the banks and redlining and trying to change the way in which neighborhoods were segregated,” he continued. “In fact, I cast the deciding vote in 1974 against an amendment called the Gurney Amendment, which would have banned the right of the federal courts to use busing as a remedy.”