Ignatius says voters are sensibly focusing on Harris because of Biden’s age, while noting that Harris is less popular than Biden, with a 39.5 percent approval rating, according to the polling website FiveThirtyEight.
“Biden could encourage a more open vice-presidential selection process that could produce a stronger running mate,” Ignatius writes.
Biden himself has committed to Harris as his running mate for 2024. He said last year, “She’s going to be my running mate, No. 1. And No. 2, I did put her in charge. I think she’s doing a good job.”
In a New York Magazine Intelligencer column, Eric Levitz floats several options to replace Harris including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.).
“To be sure, replacing Harris with another running mate is not a great option,” Levitz writes. “It’s just that Democrats have no good ones. It is risky to switch out the first Black and female vice-president for someone else. But it is also risky to saddle an 81-year-old nominee with an exceptionally unpopular running mate who — if all goes well — will be all but guaranteed the party’s nomination in 2028.”
However, dumping Harris could come with significant backlash among Black voters — a category of voters Biden needs in 2024 that served him a major victory in 2020. Harris’ role as vice president marked an important achievement being the first woman to ever hold her office and the first person of Black or South Asian descent to do so.
But as journalist Josh Barro writes in his newsletter “Very Serious,” “Harris’s role as a draw for black voters is more theoretical than demonstrated” since she has never had a core political base among Black voters “because she has never been elected in a jurisdiction with a large black population.”
In Harris’ place, Barro suggests Whitmer as Biden’s running mate.
“[Biden] has the opportunity to pick a running mate who’s more appealing to voters than Kamala Harris, more credible as a next-generation leader of the Democratic Party than Kamala Harris, and more comforting to voters who consider the possibility that his running mate might succeed to the presidency than Kamala Harris,” Barro writes.