When he announced that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) would be his running mate on Tuesday, Joe Biden and his campaign team expected there would be tremendous excitement and celebration surrounding the pick, but they could never have anticipated just how profoundly Harris has impacted the 2020 race.
In the first 48 hours after Harris was introduced as Biden’s choice as vice president, $48 million in contributions poured into campaign coffers, suggesting that people were indeed ready to get on board now that the Democratic ticket had been finalized.
Additionally, polls began to show that voters were impressed with Harris and had a favorable view of her. A flash poll conducted showed that 53 percent of those surveyed said they approved of Harris, with only 29 percent saying they disapproved.
And then there’s the Harris-Florida factor, which could wind up putting the Sunshine State in the Democratic column on Election Day, which would be devastating for President Donald Trump.
Politico reports that the choice of Harris has electrified immigrants from the West Indies, hundreds of thousands of whom live in Florida:
“Calls from Caribbean radio show hosts flooded the Biden campaign from South Florida. And a jolt of excitement shot through the crowd of early vote poll workers at the Lauderdhill Mall, in the midst of Broward County’s growing Jamaican community.
“’There was just this sense of energy,’ state Rep. Anika Omphroy, a daughter of two Jamaican immigrants, said in describing the moment the announcement was received.
“‘It was all Black women out there working under the tents,’ she said. ‘It was 98 degrees in August in South Florida, so it was too hot to cheer. But you could feel it, this sense.'”
The Biden campaign is actively reaching out to those voters, too, running radio ads in Creole and English, and even contemplating having Harris give interviews to local hosts who have audiences composed of immigrants from the West Indies.
Even Florida Republicans acknowledge that Harris could indeed help Biden in Florida, which has 29 electoral votes.
Hans Mardy, a Haitian-American Republican activist from Miami, remarked:
“There is a very tight connection between Haitian Americans in South Florida and Jamaican Americans in South Florida. We are one when it comes to our struggle. We fought the same war. We have the same Bible. What is good for one immigrant, is good for us all.”
But perhaps the biggest advantage for the Biden-Harris ticket is the contrast she creates when placed against Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Karen Green, chair of the Florida Democratic Party’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, noted:
“She’s a universal woman of our modern times. She serves as a woman who refutes everything Trump stands for. I’m going to be an evangelist for her. And there are thousands like me.”
Somewhere deep in the inner chambers of the Trump-Pence campaign, top strategists are much more nervous than ever before.