Harris Gains Ground on Biden in Post-Debate Bump

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., , center, gestures towards former vice president Joe Biden, as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., talks, during the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art on June 27, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(CN) – U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris picked up steam in the race to become the 2020 Democratic nominee while Joe Biden maintained front-runner status but lost ground in the wake of the two candidates’ heated exchange over civil rights records during last week’s debates, according to a CNN poll released Monday.

Harris leapfrogged from fifth place to second as 17% of those polled said they favor her for the nomination. Biden garnered 22%, putting him 5 points ahead albeit with a narrower lead than what he has enjoyed since announcing his bid.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren also enjoyed a jump in approval according to the poll, moving ahead of fellow Senator Bernie Sanders to third place at 15%. Sanders garnered 14% support. No other candidate gained more than 5% approval, according to the poll.

While the field is still large with as many as 25 candidates, a slew of polls released Monday indicate Biden, Harris and Warren are the favorites to duke it out for the nomination and the right to take on President Donald Trump.

Trump received mixed results in a separate poll released Monday.

The AP-NORC Center for Public Research poll found most American voters are pleased with the economy but are in no hurry to credit the current president.

While 63% of the respondents described the economy as good, only 47% of the respondents approved of Trump’s handling of the economy. Meanwhile, 53% disapproved.

Part of this likely stems from Trump’s continued unpopularity in general among Democrats and independents, but the poll also reflects a sentiment that most Americans – including Republicans – do not approve of Trump’s use of tariffs.

While 50% of Republicans said they believed the tariffs would help the national economy, this was down from nearly 70% in August 2018 and indicates fatigue with tariffs across the political spectrum.

All told, 26% of Americans said the tariffs will help the national economy. Only 19% said they will help their local community and 15% think tariffs will help them and their family.

“Overall, 70% think Trump’s tariffs will increase the price of consumer goods in the United States, while only 8% expect consumer goods to cost less and 20% think the tariffs will have no effect,” the AP-NORC pollsters said Monday.

But Republicans aren’t close to abandoning the leader of their party. Eighty-two percent of those polled said they approve of the way Trump is handling the economy, compared to 46% overall.

That overall number, driven by the fact that only 38% of independents approve of Trump’s economic approach, gives Democratic contenders inroads to criticize the president.

Nearly every candidate that appeared on the stage over the course of the two Democratic debates last week talked about Trump’s poor handling of the economy, particularly as it relates to inequality.

Warren called the wealth gap in America a sign of corruption, while Biden said he believes the middle class built America and that Trump thinks the credit should go to Wall Street.

Trump has shown a tendency of looking to the stock market as an indicator of the economy’s general health and a de facto report card for his performance in guiding the economy.

“The Stock Market went up massively from the day after I won the Election, all the way up to the day that I took office, because of the enthusiasm for the fact that I was going to be President,” Trump tweeted last week. “That big Stock Market increase must be credited to me.”

But whether Americans also see the health of the stock market as a proxy for the economy overall remains an open question.

According to the AP-NORC poll, only 17% of respondents said their federal tax bill was lower in 2018 than in 2017. And in general, the large tax relief package passed as Trump’s first signature piece of legislation has been met with tepid reviews from the public at large.

The CNN poll was conducted the research firm SSRS and surveyed 1,613 adults from Friday through Sunday. It has a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points. The AP-NORC poll involved 1,116 adults and has a margin of sampling error of 4 percentage points.

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