“I’m f-cking moving to Iowa,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was caught telling Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) on Wednesday.
“I’m f****** moving to Iowa,” Sen. Kamala Harris joked to Sen. Hirono (before she noticed me) pic.twitter.com/dv0PRWLY8g
— Matt Laslo (@MattLaslo) September 18, 2019
Harris, who has been slipping in the polls, is in need of a rebound, and the 2020 Democratic White House hopeful has hedged her bets on Iowa for her campaign reboot. Harris’ campaign manager, Juan Rodriguez, told reporters Thursday that the California senator needs a third-place finish in the first-in-the-nation caucus to stay competitive in the primary, according to CNN.
Rodriguez set high expectations for a senator falling behind in the polls as the race begins to narrow to a three-way contest. Leading to pack now are front-runner and former vice president Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Harris is currently polling fifth, according to Real Clear Politics’ latest aggregate of polls, and has sunk to single-digit numbers while Biden, Sanders, and Warren dominate the field. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is polling higher than Harris.
Earlier this year, Harris emerged as a top-tier contender following a strong debate performance in June challenging Biden’s opposition to busing at the first Democratic primary debate. In recent months, however, Harris has begun to fade into the background of the campaigns with few moments to stand out. Now Harris is depending on a strong performance in the first Democratic caucus to keep her competitive in the race.
On Tuesday, Harris gathered her top campaign advisers in Baltimore and hammered out a plan to revive the campaign that focuses on Iowa amid dropping support, according to Politico. The plan includes weekly visits to the state throughout October and doubling campaign staff based there to a total of 131 organizers.
Harris, who has spent a considerable amount of time in recent months fundraising for the campaign, hadn’t been to Iowa since August before her appearance on Thursday, and polling shows she is quickly losing ground in the critical caucus state.
According to Real Clear Politics’ average of Iowa polls, Harris is at 8.5 percent support, well behind Biden with 28.5 percent, Warren at 18, and Sanders at 17.5 percent. A new poll from Focus on Rural America, conducted by the candidate’s own pollster, shows Harris has dropped 13 points in the Hawkeye state since July. In that poll she earned just 5 percent, seating the senator in sixth place.
But sixth place in Iowa could spell the end of the campaign in February.
“We want to make sure we have a strong top three finish,” Rodriguez said in Thursday’s conference call with reporters.
By setting a high threshold for success, Harris is taking a risk on the state where anything less could doom the senator’s presidential ambitions.