“No matter your candidate, you have to recognize that going from the most diverse field ever in January to a potentially all-white debate stage in December is catastrophic,” wrote Leah Greenberg, a co-executive director of Indivisible, a national progressive group.
It was on an earlier debate stage when Ms. Harris generated one of the most electric moments of the race so far, when she challenged Mr. Biden over his record on race and busing in June. “I do not believe you are a racist,” she began. Mr. Biden was so taken aback he cut off his own answer short. “Anyway, my time is up. I’m sorry,” he said.
Money poured into her campaign and she spiked in the polls, rocketing to second place in several and generally peaking at 20 percent support. But her poll numbers declined steadily since then, beginning when she undercut her star turn when she struggled to articulate her own position on mandated busing.
Mr. Biden’s support, however, has proved durable, and he has shown himself a challenging politician to attack. The other most frontal assault on him came from Juliáán Castro, the former federal housing secretary, who also dropped in the polls after their debate-stage confrontation.
In recent months, Ms. Harris had struggled financially as her online fund-raising slowed and her large donors increasingly turned away from her campaign. In the third quarter of the year, she spent more than $1.41 for every dollar she raised, burning through millions of her treasury. She stopped buying ads, both online and on television, implemented layoffs, slashed staff in New Hampshire and retrenched to Iowa, where she spent the Thanksgiving holiday with her family.
But it was not enough, as her campaign determined that she did not have the financial resources needed to compete, even as a new allied super PAC began reserving ads on Tuesday. The group quickly began canceling its reservations.