The narrative of the 2020 Democratic primary shifted following a strong performance by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in the first debate in June. But two months later, a new poll puts us roughly back where we started.
While Harris experienced a major polling bump following her break-out first debate, during which she confronted former Vice President Joe Biden on busing, she's been slipping ever since the second debate in July. In the latest poll from CNN and SSRS released on Tuesday, she's down to 5 percent support, a 12-point drop from a post-debate June poll that had her at 17 percent support.
This poll brings Harris down to 10 points behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and 9 points behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), as well as 24 points behind Biden; she had been just five points away from the former vice president in June. CNN notes that this 5 percent support for Harris is about where she was before the first presidential debate.
Biden went up seven points in the CNN/SSRS poll compared to the one conducted in June, putting him at 29 percentage points, 14 points ahead of his closest rival, Sanders.
After a performance in the second Democratic debate that clearly did not make as much of an impression on voters as her first, Harris will next have a chance during the third debate in September, which will now have at least 10 candidates. With this CNN poll, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro has met the qualification requirements. Should just one more candidate qualify, the debate will be split into two nights again, meaning Harris may or may not get another rematch with Biden.
CNN's poll was conducted by speaking to 1,001 adults nationally over the phone from Aug. 15-18. The margin of error is 6.1 percentage points. Read the full results at CNN. Brendan Morrow
Empire just took a huge ratings hit in its first episode back since star Jussie Smollett's arrest.
The Fox drama on Wednesday aired its midseason premiere after being off the air for three months. Smollett, who claimed in January he was the victim of a hate crime but has since been charged with disorderly conduct as police say he paid to stage the attack, was featured in the episode as usual, although he will be removed from the show later in the season.
Ratings for the new episode fell significantly, with 4.4 million total viewers tuning in, per The Wrap. For comparison, about five million people tuned into the previous episode in December. This is also down from the 6.2 million people who watched the midseason premiere in 2018. The result was the second-worst rated Empire episodein the show's entire run, with the worst being one that aired on Halloween 2018 that drew an audience of 4.2 million viewers. Still, Empire was the second highest-rated primetime show on Wednesday night, Deadline points out.
Smollett appeared in a Chicago court on Thursday to plead not guilty to the 16 counts against him. His next court appearance will take place on April 17. Brendan Morrow