“I would say, the best opening so far would be Kamala Harris”, Donald Trump said, in January, after the senator’s launch rally in Oakland before a crowd of more than 20,000 people.
“[She had a] better crowd, better enthusiasm”, the president remarked.
For the first six months, Harris managed to stay within shouting distance of the top tier in the race for the Democratic nomination. Then, she nearly pole vaulted into the lead after a stunning performance in the June 27 debate, when she ambushed Joe Biden with a deft maneuver during a discussion on race.
Read more: The Nominee
Her campaign was ready – a picture of a young Kamala featuring a new tag line (“That little girl was me”) appeared on her official Twitter account within minutes of what some believed might be an early defining moment.
“@KamalaHarris is actually the top trending topic in search on all of Google in the US right now”, Google Trends tweeted that evening.
She was, for a fleeting moment, in second place.
(Goldman, RCP, following June debate)
But, it wasn’t to be. Her campaign faltered, and her poll numbers collapsed. By August, she was back in the single digits, running barely ahead of candidates who never had a chance.
On Tuesday, she threw in the towel and suspended her campaign hours after CNBC said that a fundraising event in New York had been canceled amid reports of disarray among staffers and allies.
“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” Harris said in an email to supporters.
“If she doesn’t turn it around in the next couple months, I think we may end up saying what doomed her candidacy is there just wasn’t any clear rationale”, Paul Maslin, a longtime Democratic pollster and Harris watcher, told the Washington Post earlier this week. “She didn’t give the voters — they didn’t give the voters — a clear sense of ‘why am I doing this”.
Over the past several months, Harris had difficulty financing the campaign, with some estimates showing spend of $1.40 for every $1 raised. Recently, she stopped ad buys and cut staff in New Hampshire, favoring Iowa.
Ultimately, it was too late. Besides the slumping poll numbers, the writing was on the wall. Last week, The New York Times published a resignation letter from the campaign’s director of operations.
“This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly”, Kelly Mehlenbacher chided. “With less than 90 days until Iowa we still do not have a real plan to win”.
Now, they don’t need one.