Vice President Kamala Harris is not historically very popular. Her approval rating rarely topped 40 percent during her campaign in the Democratic presidential primary. Her poll numbers sagged in her home state of California. It wasn’t until Biden chose her as his running mate that Harris enjoyed consistently higher approval ratings, but even as of April of this year, her unfavorability ratings were just about as high.
Despite being pretty unlikable (and as that nervous laugh suggests, awfully inauthentic), Harris has managed to maneuver herself into arguably the most powerful position in the country. If she does eventually run for president, who would be her base? Who actually likes Kamala Harris?
The obvious place to start is with the ‘KHive’, Kamala’s rabid online fan group named after Beyonce’s ‘Beyhive’. Those who have ended up on the KHive’s bad side describe receiving endless harassment and even death threats from the group’s members. This intensity of worship is usually reserved for celebrities or cult leaders, not politicians. So what endears them so strongly to the Vice President? Well, the group is obsessed with identity politics — and Harris checks plenty of boxes.
‘She broke so many barriers as a Black, South Asian woman,’ one member told Insider, ‘so we must be here to defend her for who she is as a biracial woman.’
Another said, ‘She sits at the intersection of race and gender, which is the root cause of her unparalleled criticism. People are not used to seeing Black people with a seat at the table, but definitely not Black women.’
In that vein, the KHive routinely accuses Harris’s detractors of being sexist, racist, or some combination thereof. To them, Harris’s mere existence as a powerful, liberal, black woman is far more important than her specific ideology. Not that Harris has one, anyway. This separates the KHive from the similarly zealous ‘Bernie Bros’.
Harris’s fans, therefore, are people who like to appear woke on issues of gender and race but don’t care or know much about policy so long as it’s vaguely left-wing. This explains why she received so many celebrity endorsements during the presidential primary: Ben Affleck, Lance Bass, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mindy Kaling, Sean Penn, Spike Lee, Reese Witherspoon, Emma Roberts, and a whole host of other Hollywood stars put their hats in for Harris. She apparently received just two endorsements from major political organizations: the Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus and the United Farm Workers.
Harris’s ideological flexibility — or as her fans might call it, pragmatism — has kept her on good terms with the Democratic establishment. She’s long-time friends with former president Barack Obama, which might explain why Obama opted not to endorse Joe Biden during the primary. She earned endorsements in her 2016 Senate race from Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Gavin Newsom, Eric Swalwell and pro-abortion group Emily’s List.
Perhaps no one is more enamored with Kamala Harris than the media. Shortly after she announced her presidential bid, the reporters assigned to cover her campaign started acting more like her entourage. CNN’s Maeve Reston bragged on social media about how she and NBC’s Ali Vitali got Harris to try on a sequin rainbow jacket. Establishment media outlets glossed over Harris’s less-than-progressive prosecutorial record or her flip-flopping on healthcare, instead publishing glowing stories about her love for Chuck Taylor sneakers. They sidelined her prior attacks on Joe Biden before he chose her as his running mate, instead gloating about her ‘history-making’ VP candidacy, her style, and her cooking skills.
The people who like Harris prefer flash to substance. They want identity over policy. This may work well for a media-boosted sidekick, but when Harris tries to take the spotlight, she will face the same issues that destroyed her presidential campaign the first time around.