Is Elizabeth Warren on the road to capturing the presidency? With polls now showing her running competitively with Joe Biden in Iowa and New Hampshire, many mainstream media outlets have all but declared her the presumptive Democratic nominee. They’re also insisting that she’s likely to be a fierce challenger to Donald Trump in the general election.
Nonsense, I say.
In fact, in all of the national polling, Biden still has a double-digit lead over the rest of the Democratic field, including not only Warren but also Bernie Sanders, whose position is slipping somewhat of late. Warren has invested heavily in the first two contests and has gained, while Biden, who has not invested heavily, is remaining at his previous level.
But Biden’s national lead, which has survived and even expanded as Warren has gained in Iowa and New Hampshire is indicated of his endurance – indeed, prominence in the race.
In many ways, it comes down to demographics. Warren has gained with some women who had backed Biden, mainly out of fear that a candidate like Warren might not be “electable.” But Biden has solid backing from older voters and above all, from African-Americans, and there is little sign that he will lose this support to any of the current candidates, including Warren.
Not that Warren isn’t trying. Earlier this year, she published an article in the Black magazine Essence in which she noted that Black women were dying in increasing numbers during pregnancy. The Black maternal mortality rate does far exceed that of White women, and Warren, whose support is overwhelmingly from Whites, was seeking to establish some “street cred” with the party’s single most powerful constituency and a key source of its grassroots mobilizing capacity.
It hasn’t made much of a difference, in fact. Even with Kamala Harris attacking Biden’s record on civil rights — African-Americans, especially older voters, have stuck firmly with a man they still remember as a champion, notwithstanding some controversy over his opposition to forced busing and his less than generous handling of Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearing.
That support translates into a huge Biden advantage in the South, including bellwether states like South Carolina, where he has a whopping advantage (43% in the latest polling, compared to just 14% for Warren) as well as blockbuster Texas, where Biden also leads handily (10 points over Warren).
And consider the issues. Warren, like Sanders, and a number of other candidates, has emerged as a champion of the progressive left, calling for the abolition of student and medical debt, a rise in the minimum wage, and some version of “Medicare for All.” Lately, she’s all but attacked Biden for being a Democratic candidate of the past. We need fresh, forwarding looking leadership she insists,
The problem? Democrats, to say nothing of the country as a whole, don’t generally support most of these positions. They are looking for moderate centrist leadership, not a liberal firebrand. And truth be told, it’s not at all clear that they are looking for – are prepared to accept – a woman as Chief Executive.
At this stage of the race, most of the head-to-head polling isn’t very reliable. Sure, many people find the Democratic candidates favorable, in terms of personality above all. It doesn’t mean they are prepared to vote for them – not against a sitting president, in an economic boom.
And not even one with Trump’s irascible and impolitic nature, which many voters still, find appealing. After all, it was one reason so many people voted for him
Warren’s strategy appears to be to win Iowa and New Hampshire to try to knock Sanders out of the race and to consolidate his left-wing populist support behind her own candidacy. That makes sense if you think the two candidates are interchangeable. But it turns out the second choice of Sanders’ voters isn’t Warren – it’s actually Biden.
What’s more likely to happen is that a victory in Iowa and/or New Hampshire will eliminate nearly all of the other candidates, assuming they last the next six months to the primaries. However, don’t expect Sanders to drop out. He didn’t in 2016, even when Hillary Clinton’s delegate lead was insurmountable. He soldiered on to the bitter end, arguably weakening Clinton in the general election. \
Sanders is even more dug in now than he was four years. In fact, he’s about to plow a slew of new campaign resources into Iowa and New Hampshire. And Biden will be re-investing soon. Warren’s current lead may not even last.
Much of the mainstream media has a love-hate relationship with Biden. They loved Obama in 2008 and are naturally attracted to the latest insurgent challenger and “flavor of the month” – each is a fresh news story that “sells.”
We’ve already seen the rise and fall of Harris, Beto O’Rourke, and Pete Buttigieg. Presently, in addition to Warren, the media has become fascinated with another novelty candidate, Andrew Yang.
The idea that the country may be finally ready for a tried and true political veteran – and on paper at least, one of the most qualified men to ever run for president, and as the vice-president of a popular former president, still a natural “heir” to the presidency — is apparently too boring to report as “news.”
The mainstream media, whose reporters grew up with celebrity politics, is still addicted to the hype, and can scarcely conceal its own left-wing bias. That’s helping Warren, who is clearly no slouch, but it doesn’t make her the presumptive anything – far from it