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With the expected date of Joe Biden's vice presidential decision getting closer, rumor has it that campaign insiders are waging something of a shadow war against Sen. Kamala Harris has become stronger.  In late July, news reports surfaced that certain supporters of the prospective Democratic nominee thought Harris was "too ambitious" for the job. "She wanted to run for president the day of the inauguration," Florida bundler John Morgan told CNBC. It was loud enough that Harris herself seemed to address it on Friday, as she spoke via livestream at the Black Girls Lead 2020 conference: "There will be opposition to your ambition, there will be people saying to you:" you are out of your path. & # 39; ”
But it seems that voters may think the track is actually a great place for Harris and other women politicians to be.
According to research published last month, most people do not mind ambitions for female candidates for office. "Voters have no problem with ambitious women," said Ana Catalano Weeks, a professor of comparative politics at the University of Bath and co-author of the July paper "Ambitious Women: Gender and Voter Perceptions of Candidate Ambition." "This seems to be a problem on the party side."
Catalano Weeks and co-author Sparsha Saha, a Harvard researcher, asked questioners to select fictional candidates whose gender was specified, each with descriptions that indicated different levels of ambition.
Researchers defined ambitions as perceived by political candidates in some ways: progressive ambition, or seeking office and subsequent higher office; personality traits such as self-confidence and willingness to succeed; and ambitious political agendas.
Catalano Weeks and Saha assumed that voters would punish ambitious women who run for office. But they found that was not the case; voters did not treat ambitious women differently than the ambitious men.
"Norms in society are changing," Catalano Weeks explains. The general public may once have seen ambitions as a negative quality in women ̵
These academics were inspired to take on this research in 2017 after observing Hillary Clinton's treatment in the 2016 election, including a hacked email in which Colin Powell described the Democratic nominee as having a "long track record." of “uninhibited ambition.
This cycle, Harris was not the only woman to be reported that Biden's ticket was described as ambitious. Georgia's former gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, shocked the political establishment by openly stating that she would accept a VP offer from the Democratic nominee; she asked other women of color not to let others "disqualify" their ambition.
The research conducted by Saha and Catalano Weeks did not address how race affects voters 'perceptions of candidates' ambitions, but the couple hopes future work will answer that question.
“I wish the story was,‘ Yay, Kamala Harris is ambitious. Isn't that a great thing? & # 39 ;, Sier Catalano Weeks.
Co-author Saha adds: “It's just so absurd. These people are obviously ambitious. ”
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