Opinion | Kamala Harris’s Cultural Impact

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In the South, her amazing, very American story, could find some resistance from those who look askance at it, even if they never verbalize it. The southern states, with the notable exceptions of Texas and Florida, have the fewest immigrants and their residents are the most opposed to interracial marriage.

Most southern states aren’t swing states, but it seems to me that while voting matters most within states, the amorphous “feelings” people get about a candidate, positive or negative, transcend states and wash over the whole country.

As with many mixed-race people in America, Harris has made identity choices that link her to particular parts of herself, finding a way to make a oneness of twoness.

Harris chose to attend a historically black university and enter a prominent and powerful Black sorority. This positioning should place her in good stead with many Black people, particularly women. But that must be weighed against the fact that some other Black people, particularly Black men, still have real reservations over her record as a prosecutor.

This is something to keep an eye on. Although Black people as a group consistently vote overwhelmingly for Democratic presidential candidates, a gap between Black men and Black women has been growing in recent elections. According to exit polls in 2008, that gap was just one percentage point. In 2012, it was nine percentage points. In 2016 it was 12 percentage points.

Over that period, Black women’s support of the Democratic candidate held relatively steady, from 96 to 94 percent. It was the support of Black men that fell appreciably.

Harris’s record in the Senate has been exemplary, including on the issue of social justice. If she were just being judged by this chapter of her life and not the previous, this would all be a nonissue. But, of course we know, that will not be the case.

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