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First Post-Debate Polls Show Biden Leading, Harris Sinking, And Warren Rising

California Sen. Kamala Harris took the biggest hit in the post-debate polls, following an attack on her record as the largest state’s attorney general.


The first set of polls following the second Democratic debates in Detroit last week show former Vice President Joe Biden holding a firm lead on his front-runner status while California Sen. Kamala Harris begins to sink. This marks a sharp reversal from the June debates, in which Biden’s support fell and Harris’ doubled.

An analysis of four post-debate polls from Politico/Morning Consult, Quinnipiac, and The Economist/YouGov all consistently show Harris taking the biggest hit from the debates, in which she struggled against attacks after emerging as a top-tier candidate in the last debate.

The most damaging moment of the night for Harris was when Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard took aim at the California senator’s time as the largest state’s attorney general.

“Sen. Harris said she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she’ll be a prosecutor president, but I’m deeply concerned about this record,” Gabbard said.

She continued:

She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she’d ever smoked marijuana. She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California. And she fought to keep cash bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.

Harris responded by saying she was proud of her record as attorney general, reforming a criminal justice system that she said became a model for the nation.

(Buy a limited edition “Kamala Is A Cop” T-shirt here).

The damage was done, however, as became evident in the polls following the debate, in which Harris went from an average of 10.8% support to 8.3%, according to RealClearPolitics’ aggregate of polls. Quinnipiac’s poll shows Harris’ support among African Americans now at 1%.

Though Gabbard has not seen significant movement in her poll numbers since landing her attack on Harris, she became Google’s most searched candidate of the second debate night and reached the donor threshold required to qualify for the September debates shortly after. Gabbard, however, must reach 2% support in at least four different polls approved by the Democratic National Committee to be on stage, and the Hawaii congresswoman has yet to reach that requirement.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has seen a moderate uptick in support, at 21% in Quinnipiac’s poll with a 4.1% margin of error —  the highest she has ever polled since joining the race.

Though Harris took the biggest hit from the debates, she remains a top-tier candidate with the fourth-highest polling average, according to RealClearPolitics. Former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile believes Harris will survive the fallout.

“I think she just had a bad night. She’ll come back,” Brazile said on Fox News’ “The Five” on Wednesday.