Bill Whalen, the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow at the Hoover Institution, hosts Hoover’s “Area 45” podcast on the Trump presidency.

If you plan to catch Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate, here’s a tip: Keep an eye on California Sen. Kamala D. Harris. Unless she manages a rhetorical miracle in front of a national audience, Harris could well be the next candidate to exit the race (stage left).

For this, Harris probably has her home state — and the way she has approached her job there — to blame.

Harris’s prospects don’t look good. She now finds herself a distant fifth in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls. Earlier this month, her campaign folded its tent in New Hampshire. Her strategy was once premised on winning the South’s first primary; now, Harris is apparently all-in in the nation’s first caucus. The announcement of the chaotic switch added insult to injury: While Harris was appearing at a NAACP event in South Carolina, her campaign tweeted: “I don’t know if you heard, but I’m moving to Iowa!” These strategic missteps may well be symptoms of a terminal illness dooming the Harris campaign.

And it’s true that, when the end comes, political obituary writers will point to a dysfunctional campaign structure, while others will highlight flaws in the candidate. But analysts seeking to understand the Kamala Harris flop need look no further than Harris’s ostensible selling point: her record in California. After nearly three years as the state’s junior senator, Harris doesn’t have much to show for herself.

Take, for example, Harris’s signature policy issue. What is it? Her Democratic colleague, Dianne Feinstein, is known among California voters for her policy grinding — on assault-weapons bans; protecting the Golden State’s forests, deserts and lakes; and the occasional Supreme Court nomination brouhaha.

Harris, too, sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee — and, like Feinstein, drew national attention to herself through the confirmation battle over Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. But beyond this, California voters don’t have fond memories of Harris policy accomplishments. Nor has she managed to generate much excitement about her political fortunes: When Harris first entered the presidential race, polls revealed California voters to be ambivalent about her White House aspirations.

In fairness to Harris, timing has been a problem. She has never served in the Senate majority. Given the hyperpartisan nature of the chamber, that limits opportunities to advance legislation. Yet one of her Democratic rivals, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, has nonetheless managed to be a prolific policymaker — thanks to a pragmatic approach that earns applause from Senate Republicans.

Maybe this is why Klobuchar — while behind Harris in national polls — was at 15 percent, and second place, in a late-September-early-October presidential poll of Minnesota voters. Harris, on the other hand, languishes in most California presidential polls; she has failed to reach double digits — or place above fifth — in any statewide survey of Golden State voters.

Harris’s pre-Senate résumé isn’t a great one to fall back on, either. Before heading to Washington, Harris was California’s attorney general. Her record there was decidedly mixed — and a tough sell to a woke, progressive electorate given her positions on sticking points such as prisoner releases and recreational marijuana. While seeking the nomination of a Democratic Party that keeps moving left, Harris has had to apologize for championing a California anti-truancy law that led to prison time for parents whose kids where chronically absent from the classroom.

Harris’s pre-A.G. job, as San Francisco’s district attorney, is also proving problematic. Her tough-on-crime prosecutorial approach has been criticized in presidential debates and seems to have been thoroughly repudiated by San Francisco voters: They just elected to Harris’s former post a public defender named Chesa Boudin who ran on a social-justice platform that, among other planks, called for closing jails and requiring that prosecutors write “racial impact statements” for each case they pursue.

Not even Harris’s remaining California credential — her childhood days in the East Bay — has managed to make lasting inroads with Golden State voters. She played this card in her successful June debate takedown of Joe Biden, when she recalled riding Berkeley school buses, but the polling boost in her home state was temporary. Her other attempt at playing up her East Bay ties was January’s campaign kickoff in Oakland. But that’s the same Oakland of which Gertrude Stein once observed, “There is no there there.”

Which might also become Harris’s presidential epithet. Harris, often called a “female Obama” for her biographical diversity and telegenic appeal, doesn’t lack for style. She just hasn’t offered much in the way of substance — the opposite of Elizabeth Warren’s policy-heavy climb to the top of the Democratic heap. If Wednesday’s debate ends up being Harris’s last this campaign cycle, it will be because national voters have come to realize what Californians have known all along.

Read more: