Kamala Harris is headed back “home,” in more ways than one.
The Vice President of the United States on Thursday departed from Indonesia after attending the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and was on her way to Washington, D.C., where she lives and works.
But in a week, Harris will also be kicking off a tour of colleges at another “home” — a historically Black university (HBCU) not unlike the one from which she earned her undergraduate degree.
The ‘Fight for our Freedoms College Tour’
The college tour is designed to help shore up support among the youth vote ahead of the 2024 election for which Harris and President Joe Biden have begun campaigning. But with data suggesting waning support among Black voters, it is likely by design that the first stop on the upcoming visits to college campuses is beginning at an HBCU. At the same time, polling shows that young voters overwhelmingly approve of Harris, making her the perfect person for the mission.
“This generation is critical to the urgent issues that are at stake right now for our future,” ABC News reported that Harris said in a statement about the “Fight for our Freedoms College Tour” which is scheduled to begin on Sept. 14 at Hampton University (known as “our home by the sea”) in southeastern Virginia. “It is young leaders throughout America who know what the solutions look like and are organizing in their communities to make them a reality. My message to students is clear: We are counting on you, we need you, you are everything.”
It was not immediately clear which other institutions would be visited by Harris on the “Fight for our Freedoms College Tour,” but they will be in states that include Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada and Wisconsin, according to ABC News.
The announcement of the “Fight for our Freedoms College Tour” came as recent and ongoing polling showed Biden has been losing ground with Black voters, his and Democrats’ most loyal base of supporters.
A CNN poll released Thursday morning found that Biden would only likely beat one single Republican candidate if the election were held today, and his name is not Trump. Those data points are largely consistent with polling conducted over the last year by the New York Times and Siena College which found that “Biden is underperforming among nonwhite voters.”
With the combination of such close results from the 2020 election that Biden won with the support of 92% of Black voters – the voting bloc credited with securing his victories in the consequential states of Georgia and Pennsylvania – and Harris’ popularity among young voters, it’s a no-brainer that she would kick off the upcoming college tour at an HBCU.
Gen Z voters
Amid lingering concerns about Biden’s age — he’ll be 81 in November — ahead of the election, voters aged 18-29 years old — also known as Generation Z — have expressed their approval of Harris in no uncertain terms and have extreme faith in her ability to be president, according to polling from earlier this year.
When it comes to approving of Harris’ job performance, 60% of the Gen Z voters polled indicated they either somewhat approve or strongly approve of her as vice president. Aside from Black voters as a whole, those were by far the strongest approval numbers for Harris of any demographic surveyed.
When asked whether Harris qualified to be president, 52% of the Gen Z voters responded in the affirmative. That’s second only to Black voters’ 58%.
When it came to the topic of whether Gen Z voters think Harris is honest and trustworthy, 52% of the young respondents said yes. That’s in comparison to 61% of Black voters responding the same way.
Finally, on likeability, 51% of the Gen Z voters surveyed responded in the affirmative regardless of whether they are with her politics. Sixty percent of Black voters responded similarly.
Harris’ approval matters because Republicans have been suggesting the morbid idea that Biden’s age increases the chances of him not being able to fully serve another term should he be reelected. Those politics of fear have been increasingly employed by conservatives in an effort to scare people at the prospects of Harris, 58, becoming president, an ascension that would make her the first woman and Black woman commander-in-chief.
Harris offered a full-throated dismissal of those concerns this week in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press. The vice president said she was ready to become president if the situation presented itself but also cautioned that Biden’s presidency ending prematurely is a “hypothetical” situation that she doubts will happen.
“Joe Biden is going to be fine, so that is not going to come to fruition,” Harris told the Associated Press. “But let us also understand that every vice president — every vice president — understands that when they take the oath they must be very clear about the responsibility they may have to take over the job of being president.”
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