Following his performance in the June Democratic debates, former vice president Joe Biden slipped in popularity by 10 percentage points and lost out on a fundraiser. New data further illuminates the details of Biden’s post-debate decline.
Biden’s support among black Democratic voters was cut in half according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in the weekend since the debate. This follows a savaging the former Vice-President took from Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) about his history on race issues, particularly school integration and busing.
Biden had touted his civil relationship with white supremacist Senators Herman Talmadge (D-Georgia) and James O. Eastland (D-Mississippi). He faced other stumbling blocks in courting black voters including his opposition to integration and reparations and lying about marching with civil rights leaders.
These troubled waters for the Biden campaign culminated in a moment in the second night of debates where Harris described her personal relationship with school integration and the policy of busing that Biden opposed.
“It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on segregation of race in this country,” said Harris. “And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. 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 bussed to school every day and that little girl was me.”
She continued to hammer Biden on the broader issues with race and in particular with busing and integration.
“There are moments in history where states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people,” Harris pressed.
Voters of color form an important part of Biden’s coalition, but their favorability of the vice president had been characterized as “soft,” and easily swayed. Put another way, their support was more about opposing Trump than supporting Biden, according to NPR. And women of color in particular grew skeptical of Biden leading up to the debate.
And women of color are incredibly important to the larger Democratic coalition. The voice of these women has increased dramatically in the party as well, with the women’s wave of 2018 bringing a large number of influential and diverse women into Congress.
Biden’s losses of their support amount to nothing short of a critical blow to his campaign in the most diverse presidential field in history. That field gives black voters a lot of options besides Biden. Perhaps because of her bold defense of her personal history and narrative, Kamala Harris seems to be ascendant while Biden’s star fades.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.