Vice Presidents typically don’t garner much attention during their time in office, but Kamala Harris’ approval rating has been remarkably low during her first, and perhaps only, term in President Joe Biden’s administration, and more than a dozen staffers have left since she took office in 2021. Those staff members including high ranking members such as Harris’ former chief of staff, Tina Flournoy, chief spokesperson Symone Sanders, deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh, deputy chief of staff Michael Fuchs, and communications director Ashley Etienne. Others who have left Harris’ office include director of digital strategies Rajun Kaur, director of advance Karly Satkowiak, deputy director of advance Gabrielle DeFranceschi, director of press operations Peter Velz, deputy director of public engagement Vince Evans, speechwriting director Kate Childs Graham — who Groob was hired to replace — and national security adviser Nancy McEldowney.
On multiple occasions when Harris has made herself available to media for direct questioning, her comments have been met with harsh criticism, from American and foreign press, alike. Perhaps the most infamous appearance by Harris occurred last September, when Harris that described the United State’s southern border along Mexico as ‘secure’ on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, with Chuck Todd. Another incident that gained international attention occurred when Harris laughed during a press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda. The awkward moment came after a reporter asked her a question if U.S will take in Ukraine’s refugees, and Harris broke into laughter for several seconds.
Gaffes by U.S. Vice Presidents are nothing new. Former VP Dick Cheney accidentally shot Harry Whittington, a then-78-year-old Texas attorney, with a 28-gauge Perazzi shotgun while they were hunting quail. Bill Clinton’s second in command, Al Gore, claimed to invent the internet, but the stakes didn’t seem as high during that era as their bosses were in good health. Conversely, Harris’ performance and approval ratings carry extra weight due to the record-high age of President Joe Biden, who would 82 at a second inauguration if he were to be re-elected.
HARRIS IS NO LONGER NEEDED FOR DEMOGRAPHIC ADVANTAGES
Biden already has a strong base of support among black voters and female voters, but needs to improve his standing with white, blue collar and middle class males. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer would likely be a top-tier candidate among Biden’s short list, but Michigan returned to blue state status in 2020 and re-affirmed it when it re-elected Whitmer despite her heavy-handed, almost authoritarian-approach to COVID lockdown measures. Winning Michigan is all but expected, and wouldn’t bring a major net-gain in Biden’s formula for Electoral College victory.
A NORTH CAROLINA WIN IN 2024 WOULD DRAMATICALLY IMPACT THE ELECTORAL MAP
Cooper, who was first elected in 2017, won two terms in office in a state that went red for Trump in 2016 and 2020. Tar Heel State voters went on to split the ticket in 2021, when they re-elected Cooper but also re-elected Republican Thom Tillis.
Retaking North Carolina in 2024 for Biden would give Democrats a major cushion to re-elect Biden even if Trump were to win Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia. In that scenario, assuming Michigan stayed blue from 2020, Biden would still win by an Electoral College count of 274 to 263.
COOPER WOULD PUT NORTH CAROLINA BACK INTO PLAY
While Cooper’s name may not spark much excitement or enthusiasm among party activists, many independent voters may value his experience in working across the aisle, which is virtually unmatched among fellow current governors. During Cooper’s second term as governor, he is juxtaposed against a Republican Party-controlled North Carolina State Legislature. Among statewide office holders, Cooper is flanked by a Republican Lt. Governor, Mark Robinson and a Democratic Attorney General, Josh Stein. Two Republicans, Thom Tillis and Ted Budd represent North Carolina at the U.S. Senate level.
The necessary bipartisan effort for Cooper’s career as governor could appeal to many of the middle class male voters Biden must win back if he is to be re-elected. While it’s true that Cooper isn’t a well-known political star, there’s also no denying the fact that he governs a state that reflects America’s current divide, as well as its current economic trends.
North Carolina is home to many of the nation’s most respected medical research centers, major banks and it is emerging as a hub for tech companies. The state’s economic vibrancy and growth is reflected in recent census data that shows the Tar Heel State touting some of the fastest-growing metro areas in the United States. The “Research Triangle”, which includes Winston-Salem, Raleigh and Durham, was recently ranked as the fourth fastest-growing metro area of the United States.
“The region ranks particularly high due to its importance in the biotechnology and bio-manufacturing sectors, according to a statement from the Kenan Institute shared with WRAL TechWire.”
The same report ranked Charlotte as the eighth-fastest growing city in the United States. For the past several decades and in the 2022 Midterm election,
Biden and Cooper would enter 2024 with a built-in voter registration advantage. In North Carolina, the Republican Party has 2,222,180 registered voters, compared to 2,496,817 registered Democratic Party Voters, giving Democrats a significant lead of 274,637 voters. North Carolina’s 2,562,520 voters with no party affiliation, (major or minor), account for 35 percent of the overall vote in North Carolina, making them the a larger bloc in the state. Democrats relied on heavy turnout from young voters, college-educated married young females, and minorities residing throughout the metro areas of the largest cities. North Carolina could prove to be a promise land that Biden simply can’t resist as he contemplates his next moves heading into 2024.