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Kamala Harris Hits Peak Presidential Hype

Senator ties Bernie in oddsmakers’ eyes, but others want proof

By Evan Gahr, August 12, 2018 9:00 am

Passing the baton (14 years ago): Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi meets then San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris on March 30, 2004.

It seems some oddsmakers may have taken notice of all the hype that California Senator Kamala Harris is a rising Democratic star.

In fact, the online betting website Oddsshark.com is optimistic on Harris, saying she is now tied with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as having the best odds among Democrats to unseat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

“Kamala Harris represents everything that Donald Trump isn’t, and that’s why support for her to make a presidential run in 2020 is growing. Harris is a Democrat from California in her first term as a United States Senator, but that’s not slowing some party supporters from pushing her name to the front of the line.”

“The Democrats have yet to officially begin their process to select a candidate to face Trump in 2020, but you can be sure that the conversations are happening daily. For a party that has been criticized for making political mistakes in selecting candidates before, there is most certainly a great deal of strategizing already underway. Harris is the biggest mover on our list, and now sits with the same odds as Bernie Sanders to win the 2020 US Election.”

The website rated both Sanders and Harris, who previously served as state attorney general and San Francisco District Attorney, at +1200, meaning somebody placing a $100 bet on either candidate would win $1200 if their candidate won the general election. Former vice-president Joe Biden, another prospective candidate got +1400 and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was trailing her Democratic cohorts at +2000.

Notwithstanding the favorable rating for Harris,  Trump was given much better odds than her at prevailing in November 2020 by Oddsshark. He was rated way ahead of her at +140.

Another website, Oddschecker, which tabulates results from different betting websites, found that they ranked her as having the best chance to get the Democratic nomination, repeatedly edging out Sanders.

But for the general election Trump came out ahead of Harris on a multitude of websites surveyed by Oddschecker.

The buoyant results for Harris were first reported in the mainstream media by SFGate.com.

Harris, who got quite a lot of buzz when her book deal was announced in July, has taken a particularly adversarial approach towards Trump, even accusing him of war crimes or a “crime against humanity” for separating migrant children and their parents.

Last week, she played to the Democratic base even more by rejecting  criticism of “identity politics” or placing a primacy on race and gender.

At the progressive Netroots conference in New Orleans, Harris said, “I have a problem, guys, with that phrase, ‘identity politics.’ Because let’s be clear, when people say that, it’s a pejorative. That phrase is used to divide, and it is used to distract. Its purpose is to minimize and marginalize issues that impact all of us. It is used to try and shut us up.”

Extolling civil rights, abortion rights and immigrant rights, Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian descent, said, “These are the very things that will define our identity as Americans.”

Despite the growing buzz, one academic said that despite all the fanfare it could turn out that the Empress has no clothes.

Sonoma State University Political Science Professor David McCuan told CaliforniaGlobe.com that Harris, who has refused to say if she’ll run,  is clearly hot stuff right now but she is untested and could end up flaming out.

“Right now…Senator Harris is the Darling of the Moment. She can raise money, talk to the disparate groups and wings of the Democratic Party, all the while railing against President Trump and the GOP.” But “she lacks a national profile, hasn’t had the harsh glare of the national media spotlight on her, nor has she had to make a tough call in a political context,” McCuan continued. “She hasn’t had to make a tough political call that disappoints a constituency or interest group.”

“Right now she can campaign and run for election with vast platitudes in order to introduce herself to various interests and constituencies. She hasn’t had to manage much but an image and approach. There is much still to do to grow into the role of being a serious candidate for President in 2020.”

He adds that Harris needs to go beyond the hype and prove her mettle to voters. “Right now, her dalliance as a possibility is a reflection of the weakened and divided Democratic Party field, not so much a candidacy and capability for the highest office in the land.”

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