The Note: New poll points to difficulty of defining Harris

Harris' selection looks to have complicated efforts to take on Biden.

August 13, 2020, 5:59 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Efforts to define former Vice President Joe Biden have long depended in part on whom he chose to join him on the ticket -- one consequence of the Trump campaign strategy of portraying Biden as a tool of the far left.

Just how hard that defining might be is coming into view as Sen. Kamala Harris gets her turn in the spotlight.

A new ABC News/Ipsos Poll out Thursday morning -- in the field right after Biden made his selection known and before the ticket's first joint event Wednesday -- shows that Harris is both relatively well known and relatively well liked.

Two-thirds of the country has formed enough of an opinion of Harris to view her either in a favorable or unfavorable light. Among all adults, 35% have a favorable view of Harris, compared to 31% who view her unfavorably; voters say they approve of Biden's pick by a 42-25 margin.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, joined by his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Aug. 12, 2020.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, joined by his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Aug. 12, 2020.
Carolyn Kaster/AP

In fact, of the four people part of major-party presidential tickets, Harris gets started as the only one with an approval rating above water. By comparison, President Donald Trump also is viewed favorably by 35% of the country -- only with 58% viewing him unfavorably.

Perceptions are bound to change as attacks settle in. But those attacks, so far, are unfocused, with Trump calling her the "nastiest," "meanest" and "most liberal" senator, even as his campaign suggests that progressives are divided on whether to support her.

"We are cut from the same cloth," Harris said in reference to Biden, at the first event for the new ticket Wednesday in Delaware.

If Republicans were hoping Biden's running mate would make their jobs easier, there are few signs of that in the rollout. And if Harris' selection didn't scramble the race, it looks to have complicated efforts to take on Biden.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Speaking live, publicly the first time as the newly selected Democratic vice presidential nominee, Harris laid the severity of the coronavirus pandemic in America at Trump's feet.

"There's a reason (the coronavirus) has hit America worse than any other advanced nation. It's because of Trump's failure to take it seriously from the start. His refusal to get testing up and running; his flip-flopping on social distancing and wearing masks; his delusional belief that he knows better than the experts -- all of that is reason and the reason that an American dies of COVID-19 every 80 seconds," Harris said in a blistering attack.

"It's why there is complete chaos over when and how to reopen our schools. Mothers and fathers are confused and uncertain and angry about child care and the safety of their kids at school," she went on.

PHOTO: Sen. Kamala Harris speaks after Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden introduced her as his running mate during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Aug. 12, 2020.
Sen. Kamala Harris speaks after Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden introduced her as his running mate during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Aug. 12, 2020.
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Wednesday, Trump repeated his call to open schools at an event with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Vice President Mike Pence and local families. They pressed the risks of children falling behind in classwork if they are outside the classroom and the shortcomings of virtual learning.

They did not mention examples though, like we have seen in Georgia and elsewhere, of schools that tried to re-open for in-person learning but were forced to close again or quarantine students and staff due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

And on Thursday, even high school football kicks-off in Utah.

The TIP with Quinn Scanlan

If a woman who has embraced a fringe conspiracy theory roams the halls of Congress, is that conspiracy theory still out of the mainstream? That's a real question Republicans on the Hill will have to ponder now that a second House candidate who has expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy is almost certain to win a seat in November.

About a month ago, Lauren Boebert defeated a five-term incumbent in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District. While her campaign told NPR she didn't "follow QAnon," Boebert did express support for the conspiracy that lives on anonymous message boards in the dark corners of the internet, saying on a radio show, "Everything that I've heard of Q, I hope that this is real, because it only means America is getting stronger and better."

PHOTO:QAnon demonstrators protest during a rally to re-open California and against Stay-At-Home directives, May 1, 2020, in San Diego, Calif.
QAnon demonstrators protest during a rally to re-open California and against Stay-At-Home directives, May 1, 2020, in San Diego, Calif.
Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

On Tuesday, businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene prevailed in the Republican runoff in Georgia's deep red 14th Congressional District. She tweeted Tuesday that she hasn't "embraced any conspiracy theories," but in a 30-minute video watched by ABC News, Greene called the anonymous leader Q a "patriot," running through several of the baseless conspiracies, adding, "I'm not presenting them that they're fact, but I am presenting them that I'm hoping they're facts."

After remaining neutral in the primary runoff, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office said in a statement Wednesday that the Republican leader looks forward to Greene "winning in November so that we can enact policies to renew the American dream." ABC News also reached out to every Republican Georgia House member's office regarding Greene. Only one -- Rep. Austin Scott -- has responded, saying she "deserves to be congratulated for her victory." Rep. Doug Collins, who is running for Senate in the state, said on Twitter that he looks forward to working with her -- despite previously condemning racist comments she made as "an embarrassment to the entire state."

Complicating the matter for the Republican Party? The president welcomed her with open arms on Twitter Wednesday morning, anointing her as "future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene."

ONE MORE THING

Sen. Kamala Harris steps into her new role as Joe Biden's vice presidential nominee on a relative high note. Harris receives strong marks as the pick and Biden receives credit for choosing the California senator, as she is the only contender across both presidential tickets who enjoys a net positive favorability rating, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Thursday.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Thursday morning's episode features FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver who tells us why his site's forecast says former Vice President Joe Biden is favored to win the presidential election. ABC News Chief Medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton explains why a few major groups are being left out of the discussion about the coronavirus and schools. And ABC News' Patrick Reevell brings us up to speed on the unrest in Belarus following the country's presidential election. http://apple.co/2HPocUL.

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. With just under three months until Election Day, Joe Biden's vice presidential pick, Kamala Harris, "needs to be a validator for" for the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Obama White House communications director Jen Psaki told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein. https://bit.ly/2w091jE

FiveThirtyEight's Politics Podcast. On Wednesday, we launched our 2020 presidential election forecast. It currently shows former Vice President Joe Biden with a 71% chance of winning the election and President Donald Trump with a 29% chance. In this "Model Talk" edition of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Nate Silver and Galen Druke discuss the new additions to the forecast and what makes this election's outcome so uncertain. https://53eig.ht/2E06IDH

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin joins ABC's "Good Morning America" to talk about how Sen. Kamala Harris is making history as former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate.
  • Biden and Harris receive a briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, on COVID-19 from public health experts and later they will deliver remarks.
  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds a briefing at 1 p.m.
  • Vice President Mike Pence travels to Des Moines, Iowa, to campaign and later attends the Iowa GOP state dinner.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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