When Vice President Kamala Harris entered the White House exactly two years ago, her approval rate was beyond the 50 percent mark. It grew quickly in the days following Joe Biden‘s inauguration, thanks to a surge in optimism about the direction the country was going.
Since then, Harris’ approval rate has slumped, making her at a certain point one of the least popular vice presidents in modern American history. On November 8, 2021, her approval rate plunged to 28.9 percent, according to polling website FiveThirtyEight, the lowest in her vice presidency so far, though by the end of the same month it had recovered back to the 40 percent mark.
During the past two years, Americans’ approval for the vice president suffered from the many challenges faced by the Biden administration—the COVID-19 pandemic, rising inflation, Russia’s war in Ukraine, a growing influx of immigrants at the Southern border—following a similar pattern of dips and climbs as that of President Joe Biden.
But compared to Biden’s, changes in Harris’ approval rate were often more dramatic than those reported for the president, with many more ups and downs. Harris’ approval rate first dropped in April 2021, plunging from 55.2 percent on April 25 to 47.0 percent the day after as the vice president tackled the fraught assignment given her by the president of reducing the number of migrants coming from Central America.
In the first months of her vice presidency, Harris was repeatedly criticized and questioned for not visiting the Southern border, sparking a controversy that might have led to some of the dips in her approval rating in that same period.
Overall, Harris’ approval rate was in the realm of 50 percent for the last time in early August 2021, after which it dropped into negative territory, where it stayed to this day.
As of January 13, according to FiveThirtyEight—which takes a weighted average of the polls—Harris’ approval rate stood at 40.4 percent—much below the levels of support she enjoyed at the beginning of her mandate, but significantly above the bottom level reached in the summer of 2021.
Part of the reason for Harris’ unpopularity might be linked to Republicans‘ efforts to make her the face of the problem of illegal migration at the Southern border. The issue has become even thornier in recent months as COVID-19-era restrictions blocking migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border—Title 42—were expected to be lifted, before this was once again postponed last month.
Though both Biden’s and Harris’ approval rates have improved in recent months since a series of unexpected wins reported by the Biden administration in November 2022—including the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, plunging gas prices, strong employment numbers, cooling inflation, and the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri—the poor polling for the two remains likely to be a headache for Democrats ahead of the 2024 election.
Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.