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How Kamala Harris became an internet icon

A favourite has emerged to replace Joe Biden. Screenshot/YouTube

July 3, 2024 - 8:30pm

In the last 24 hours, Kamala Harris has become the new favourite to replace Joe Biden. In doing so, she’s now at the centre of a burgeoning meme culture that’s rebranding her most widely-mocked public statements as quirky and charismatic.

Social media is awash with posts from Left-of-centre influencers announcing, through a haze of convoluted memes, that they’re rallying behind Harris. In online parlance, these users are “coconut-pilled”, a reference to Kamala Harris once telling an audience, “Do you think you just fell out of a coconut tree? You exist in the context of all in which you live and what came before you.”

Harris’ young fans have coopted the “KHive” moniker, a riff off Beyonce’s “B-Hive” that was first popularised during her botched 2019 primary campaign. The Vice President’s unusual public speaking style, boisterous and often oddly timed laugh, and occasional dancing are at the core of her semi-ironic cult following.

One user made a video compilation of Harris having a “coconut tree summer”. Another fancam video shows her laughing and clapping to a remix of Charli XCX’s “Von Dutch”, with the artist’s recent “Brat” album serving as the backdrop for numerous other Kamala Harris fan posts. A clip of talkshow host Drew Barrymore awkwardly urging Harris to be the “Mom-ala of the country” has found new life as a rallying cry.

The Vice President’s online popularity may also be translating to real support among younger Democrats. As of April, Trump was ahead of Biden by one point among those aged 18-34 in a CNN poll, but after the debate, the former president’s lead grew to six percentage points with this age group. Replacing Biden with Harris on the ballot would win back those lost points for the Democratic ticket. The post-debate poll found Harris leading Trump by one point in a head-to-head race.

The 35-49 age group showed a similar trend. Biden was ahead by six percentage points before the debate, but Trump is leading by four points post-debate. The Vice President, meanwhile, enjoys a five point lead over Trump in a one-on-one matchup in the same poll.

It marks a considerable change in fortunes for Harris, one of the least popular vice presidents in history, whose bid for the presidency in 2019 failed spectacularly. While she was unable to win any single demographic group based on age or race, she performed worst among young voters. Five years later, with an 81-year-old incumbent and few realistic alternatives, the youth vote may be ready to rally around Harris.

Biden’s support for Israel has damaged his popularity among young progressives, some of whom view the war in Gaza as a top policy priority. Harris, by comparison, has been less vocal in her support for Israel, which may play well with these voters. For young moderates who supported Biden up until the debate, a Harris candidacy is a practical solution to both Biden’s age and his prosecution of the war in Gaza.

Harris is next in line to the presidency and is the only candidate who could automatically inherit Biden’s campaign funds. That she is now playing well with younger Democrats suggests that he is likely the party’s best chance at holding on to the White House and avoiding down-ballot damage due to voters’ concerns about Biden.


is UnHerd’s US correspondent.

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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
15 days ago

Remember when the prerequisites for high office were experience, competence, charisma, and intelligence? Yeah, me neither.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
15 days ago

Isn’t ‘coconut’ a racial slur?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
15 days ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Yes, brown n the outside and white on the inside.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
15 days ago

I always felt bad for Harris. She was thrust into a role she is clearly incapable of fulfilling. I know it’s exactly what she wanted, but I still feel bad for her. And the inappropriate laughing must be some kind of nervous tick. It’s really weird and kills her credibility.

General Store
General Store
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

She slept her way up. Zero sympathy

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
15 days ago
Reply to  General Store

So did Biden!

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
15 days ago

Ouch! Clever…

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
13 days ago

Now he’s sleeping his way out.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross
12 days ago
Reply to  Studio Largo

Clever-er!

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
15 days ago

The woman in a grey suit.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
15 days ago

As the Democrats have been happy to support a man who has manifested dementia for some time why should they not support someone who displays weirdness in a less demented form? Unlike Biden’s issue it’s unlikely to get worse.

Of course those who are not died-in the-wool Democrat members may have reservations.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
15 days ago

It is easy to mock Kamala Harris, and in many ways we should not let that stop us. But she locked up African-American men as if it had been going out of fashion, and she kept them locked up past the end of their sentences as cheap labour for her corporate donors. In 36 hours’ time, we may very well have a similar figure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. These are not good times.

Obadiah B Long
Obadiah B Long
12 days ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

All necessary steps toward the goal of suiciding western civilization.

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
15 days ago

This feels quite a bit like Wagging the Dog.

Richard C
Richard C
14 days ago

“Replacing Biden with Harris on the ballot would win back those lost points for the Democratic ticket.”
A ridiculous assumption, in a ridiculous story.

Catherine Conroy
Catherine Conroy
14 days ago
Reply to  Richard C

It sounds crazy but it’s actually true according the the latest polls.

Obadiah B Long
Obadiah B Long
12 days ago

It’s a ridiculous country.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
13 days ago

Meme away, little sycophants. You can’t shine shit.

Robbie K
Robbie K
15 days ago

Yeah reminds me of all those crazy cute Liz Truss moments, whilst at the same time thinking wtf, how did this utter imbecile reach the upper echelons of government?