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The abortion debate is giving Kamala Harris a moment. But voters still aren't sold

Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Women

Several voters said in interviews in Phoenix on Monday that they were not aware Harris was in their state just a few days ago, underscoring the challenge of getting attention as a vice president in an era of information overload.

"If she is coming for us, she doesn't show it," said Tracey Sayles, a 52-year-old Black Democrat.

Sayles voted in prior elections for Democrats Hillary Clinton and Biden but now says her choice is 50-50 in the coming election, despite calling Trump "vulgar," because Biden "looks like he's ill." She would have driven to see Harris in Tucson if she'd known she was in the state, she said, but feels the vice president has been hiding.

Another voter who dislikes both Trump and Biden, Jeff Garland, said he has not seen much of Harris either.

"But from what I have seen of her, she doesn't look like someone I want running my country," said Garland, a 57-year-old retired member of the military who said he voted for Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020 and planned to sit out 2024.

Kellie Hoverson, a 31-year-old Democrat, said she "was not thrilled about Biden" but was more bullish on Harris, despite hearing concerns from younger friends and relatives about her history as a prosecutor in California.

 

"I just want a woman president," she said. "I just want to see it in my lifetime."

Studies by the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which works to advance women's equality in politics, suggest women face an "imagination barrier" when they run for the highest executive offices, because voters have a harder time picturing them in the job than they do white men, who have historically held the posts.

"Men can tell and women have to show," said Amanda Hunter, the foundation's executive director.

Polls suggest Harris, who dropped out early in the 2020 presidential primary, has made strides with the Democratic base. Three quarters of Democrats had a favorable view of her in the USA Today/Suffolk poll, which showed a little more than a quarter of independents view her favorably.

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