Support for Kamala Harris Dives After Debate Clashes With Tulsi Gabbard

August 7, 2019 Updated: August 7, 2019

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) saw her support drop significantly in one of the first polls taken after the second round of Democratic presidential debates.

Harris, 54, repeatedly clashed with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who attacked Harris over her record as a prosecutor.

The Quinnipiac University poll released Aug. 6, a week after the debate, showed support for Harris dropping from 12 percent in a July poll to 7 percent. Support for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) increased from 15 percent to 21 percent, making her second place behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who got 32 percent support among Democrats and independent voters who lean Democrat.

Third was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with 14 percent, up from 11 percent, and fourth was Harris.

gabbard at debate
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), a 2020 presidential candidate, speaks at a debate in Detroit, Michigan, on July 31, 2019. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Gabbard took aim at Harris during the July 31 debate.

“I’m deeply concerned about this record [of senator Harris]. … She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard said at Detroit’s Fox Theatre.

“She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California, and she fought to keep cash bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.”

Harris responded, saying she was proud of her record as a prosecutor and “actually doing the work of being in the position to use the power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of reform.”

Gabbard pressed on, adding: “When you were in a position to make a difference and an impact in these people’s lives, you did not and worse yet in the case of those who are on death row, innocent people, you actually blocked evidence from being revealed that would have freed them until you were forced to do so.”

Gabbard said Harris owes people “who suffered under your reign as a prosecutor” an apology.

Critics have assailed Harris over her hardline positions as a prosecutor, including trying to keep Daniel Larsen, exonerated from a conviction of possession of a concealed weapon, in prison, saying he hadn’t presented enough proof to show he was innocent, reported NBC LA.

Quinnipiac respondents indicated that Gabbard did well during the debate, with 3 percent saying she did the best job, about two percentage points above her general polling and an increase of two points from July. Eight percent said Harris did the best job, a drop from 47 percent in July.

On the other end, 1 percent said Gabbard did the worst job while 7 percent said that Harris did the worst job. She was rated third-worst behind author Marianne Williamson and former Vice President Biden.

An Economist/YouGov poll (pdf) conducted Aug. 3 through Aug. 6 also saw 10 percent of respondents, including 14 percent of male respondents, saying Gabbard won the Wednesday night debate, versus 8 percent who said Harris won. Twenty-two percent said none of the candidates won, or did the best job, while 21 percent said they weren’t sure.

Harris has continued to attack Gabbard, and vice versa, in the days following the debate.

Gabbard appeared on MSNBC on Tuesday and posted a clip to Twitter, writing: “Kamala’s entire campaign is based on a lie—that as AG of California, she was a fighter for the oppressed and for criminal justice reform. But her criminal justice record shows that her policies exemplified the worst aspects of our criminal justice system.”

Harris, meanwhile, has called Gabbard a fringe candidate who doesn’t deserve attention even as her spokesman claimed that Russia wants Gabbard to win the Democratic nomination.

Gabbard has been hit for her meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in 2017—including by Harris, who claimed she “embraced” al-Assad—but told CNN the day after the debate that al-Assad was “a brutal dictator.”

She said the meeting was meant to end the war in Syria, saying her anti-war efforts were “because I have seen firsthand this high human cost of war and the impact that it has on my fellow brothers and sisters in uniform.”

“I will never apologize to anyone for doing all that I can to prevent more of my brothers and sisters in uniform from being sent into harm’s way to fight in these wasteful counterproductive regime change wars, even if it means meeting with a brutal dictator,” she added.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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