FiveThirtyEight went there and attacked “party elites” today as the reason for the “inevitable” loss of Warren. It doesn’t make anyone feel better, except that whoever those “party elites” are, they have made the Democratic party do some very stupid things in its history.
As we’ve seen, becoming the party elite doesn’t always get the best strategies, even as the party muddles through things like Trump’s impeachment (and Clinton’s impeachment). 2016 revealed that fracture. It hasn’t been fixed.
Jelani Cobb called them “dueling cynicisms” between arguments for not electing progressives. It’s more than that continued flaw, especially since the GOP has been more successful about exploiting the Electoral College voting.
Democracy’s existential threat remains. #BlueNoMatterWho
The party was wary of a “too liberal” nominee
Warren took positions similar to those Sanders has embraced, such as supporting a wealth tax and, most notably, calling for Medicare for All. Some more centrist Democrats simply oppose those policies. Others worried that Medicare for All, and the winding down of private insurance, would be too disruptive and the idea would scare away too many voters.
So Warren’s ascent to the top of the polls was met with resistance from a big chunk of the Democratic Party establishment. News articles began to proliferate quoting party donors and leaders fretting about the Democratic 2020 field. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick launched late bids for the nomination that almost amounted to “Stop Warren” candidacies. The anti-Warren movement was essentially a preview of the more aggressive anti-Sanders campaign orchestrated by party establishment figures between the Vermont senator’s victory in the Nevada caucuses and Super Tuesday.
So whatever her campaign tactics, Warren likely would have struggled to win the nomination for the same reason that Sanders is now an underdog to Biden: Her leftism didn’t appeal to party elites, who signaled to voters that Warren lacked “electability,” the credential many Democratic voters are obsessed with this election cycle.
Of course, Warren could have taken different policy positions, or tried spinning the same ones in different ways, except …
She tried to win very liberal voters from Sanders
Sanders urged Warren to run for president as the liberal alternative to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election cycle. Warren declined, the Vermont senator jumped in himself, and Sanders became the informal leader of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party after his surprisingly successful 2016 presidential run. With both of them running in 2020, Sanders and Warren spent much of last year basically battling over who could release the most liberal plans, such as making college free, increasing taxes on the rich, and so on.
Democrats seem to think men are more electable
Several of the women who ran for president — Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, in particular — have said that they faced constant gender-based questions from Democratic voters about their electability. Democrats nominated a woman to take on Trump once, lost, and may have been unwilling to do it again. I don’t want to downplay the strengths of Biden or Sanders or ignore the weaknesses of the women and people of color who ran in 2020, but the primary process coming down to two white male candidates polling at around 1 percent. probably reflected this view of electability. Biden and Sanders were consistently rated as the most likely to defeat Trump in a general election.
She was the “wine track” candidate
There is a long tradition of lefty candidates running in the Democratic primary and getting a lot of traction, buzz and campaign donations from party activists but not really catching on with rank-and-file voters. Think Sen. Bill Bradley in the 2000 presidential cycle or Gov. Howard Dean in 2004. This kind of candidate is sometimes referred to the “wine track” candidate, who appeals mainly to elites, as opposed to candidates who are on more “beer track,” who are thought of as being better at connecting with the working class.
— Tim Shenk (@Tim_Shenk) March 5, 2020
— David Lang (@maddoghasfleas) March 6, 2020
On Thursday, Warren formally withdrew from the primary, after a disappointing showing in early states. But like her career prior to Washington, the significance of Warren’s campaign can’t really be measured quantitatively. Warren has changed the way we think about our politics in ways many Americans don’t even realize. The horizon of possibilities is wider and a bit brighter as a result of her run, and ideas that once seemed like hippie pipe dreams are now the serious subject of policy discussion. Even self-proclaimed moderates and centrists now define themselves on her terms ― they are moderate because they don’t want to do what Elizabeth Warren has proposed.
Elizabeth Warren will not be the next president of the United States, but her work is not done. Our politics and our planet are still in peril. We are fortunate to have her in the fight for the future.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 5, 2020
— Jared Odessky (@jaredodessky) March 5, 2020
— fake nick ramsey (@nick_ramsey) March 6, 2020
— Rachel Barnhart (@rachbarnhart) March 6, 2020