Kamala Harris goes ‘all-in’ on Iowa

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a town hall Oct. 6 at Iowa State. Harris discussed many topics, including the climate crisis, gun control and whether she thinks a woman of color can become president.

Lauren Ratliff

Kamala Harris is registering 3.6 percent support in the RealClearPolitics polling average of national Democratic primary voters as of Monday, down from a high of 15.2 percent in July.

The California senator’s numbers in Iowa have similarly dropped as the Democratic primary has dragged on. From a high of 16 percent in July and early August, Harris has dropped to three percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average of Iowa Democratic caucusgoers.

In the Iowa caucuses, a candidate must meet a minimum of 15 percent support to receive delegates. If a candidate does not meet the 15 percent threshold, caucusgoers for that candidate can realign to a candidate who does in a second round on caucus night. 

The struggle many candidates face in the caucuses is meeting that 15 percent threshold.

Harris has spent a significant amount of time in Iowa recently, using an expletive to emphasize she is “moving” to the state.

During October, Iowans were able to hear her speak at more than 30 events across the state, as she spent 15 days on the ground there.

Sharon Yang, Harris’ Iowa press secretary, said Harris is going “all-in on Iowa.”

“Kamala being able to spend time and meet Iowans personally has been a huge asset to the campaign,” Yang said.

The Iowa caucuses are said “to punch three tickets” to the New Hampshire primary the following week.

Mack Shelley, Iowa State professor and chair of the political science department, said now is the time to make a statement in the race.

“It’s getting close to crunch time,” Shelley said. “Either you make some sort of a breakthrough in Iowa or maybe focus hard on your home state of California.”

Yang said the campaign’s goal is a top-three finish in Iowa.

“We’ve been investing in Iowa since the very beginning of this race and are proud of the work we’ve done so far, engaging Iowans in every county and every precinct to build the organizing infrastructure that is necessary for success on caucus night in February,” Yang said.

Harris is one of more than a dozen candidates who visited Iowa for the Liberty and Justice Celebration in Des Moines late Friday. Candidates addressed a crowd of more than 13,000.

“Kamala delivered a commanding performance at the Liberty and Justice Celebration in Des Moines and she’ll be returning to Iowa often to harness the momentum coming out of the evening,” Yang said.

In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, Harris said she and her team are determined to do well in February when the caucus rolls around.

“I’m practically living in Iowa to do the work that is necessary to make sure that I earn the support and have the folks in the caucuses who are standing in [my] corner,” Harris said.

She also has said she is aiming for a top-three finish in Iowa.

“I would guess she can be fifth,” Shelley said. “She could exceed expectations, but I don’t know how well-received a fifth place finish by Harris would be if she claimed victory.”