Elizabeth Warren Ends Campaign

The inevitable has happened.

NYT (“Elizabeth Warren, Once a Front-Runner, Will Drop Out of Presidential Race“):

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts plans to drop out of the presidential race on Thursday and will inform her staff of her plans later this morning, according to a person close to her, ending a run defined by an avalanche of policy plans that aimed to pull the Democratic Party to the left and appealed to enough voters to make her briefly a front-runner last fall, but that proved unable to translate excitement from elite progressives into backing from the party’s more working-class and diverse base.

Though her support had eroded by Super Tuesday, in her final weeks as a candidate she effectively drove the centrist billionaire, former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, out of the race with debate performances that flashed her evident skills and political potential.

She entered the race railing against the corrosive power of big money, and one long-term consequence of her campaign is that Ms. Warren demonstrated that someone other than Senator Bernie Sanders, and his intensely loyal small-dollar donors, could fund a credible presidential campaign without holding fund-raisers.

Her potential endorsement is highly sought after in the race and both Mr. Sanders and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. have spoken with Ms. Warren since Super Tuesday, when the end of her campaign appeared imminent.

Ms. Warren’s political demise was a death by a thousand cuts, not a dramatic implosion but a steady decline. Last October, according to most national polls, Ms. Warren was the national pacesetter in the Democratic field. By December, she had fallen to the edge of the top tier, wounded by a presidential debate in November where her opponents relentlessly attacked her.

She invested heavily in the early states, with a ground game that was the envy of her rivals. But it did not pay off: In the first four early voting states, Ms. Warren slid from third place in Iowa to fourth in New Hampshire and Nevada to fifth in South Carolina. By Super Tuesday, her campaign was effectively over — with the final blow of a third-place finish in the primary of her home state, Massachusetts.
The news clarifies that a Democratic field that began with a record number of female candidates has now become a contest between Mr. Biden, 77, and Mr. Sanders, 78.

CNN (“Elizabeth Warren is ending her presidential campaign“):

Elizabeth Warren is dropping out of the presidential race, a source familiar with her plans tells CNN, following another round of disappointing finishes in primary contests across the country on Super Tuesday.

The Massachusetts senator, who centered her bid on a promise to wipe out corruption in Washington, is announcing her decision on a staff call Thursday morning.

Warren’s path to the nomination has been narrowing since the first round of voting in Iowa, where she placed third. In subsequent contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, she dropped down to fourth. In South Carolina, she came in a distant fifth.


Despite the mounting setbacks, Warren’s campaign was as recently as Sunday touting a plan to amass delegates through the late spring and make a play for the nomination, as a unity candidate, during the Democratic National Convention this summer. But those hopes were effectively dashed on Super Tuesday, when she failed to win her home state of Massachusetts, finishing third behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, and mostly underperformed in a series of key states.

I’ve written a lot about the inevitability of this outcome since her poor finish in South Carolina—and literally just finished a post before seeing this announcement. So I’ll likely not have much more to say about it until and unless she endorses either Sanders or Biden.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Elizabeth Warren, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. MarkedMan says:

    Her endorsement will never be worth more than it is now. Will she use the leverage to further her agenda or to exact petty revenge on her perceived enemies (ala Bernie in ‘16)?

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    I suspect she’d like to endorse Biden but feels constrained. The fact that she has not endorsed Bernie – her ideological soulmate – tells you everything you need to know about Bernie’s ability to attract support beyond the Bros.

  3. An Interested Party says:

    Will she use the leverage to further her agenda or to exact petty revenge on her perceived enemies (ala Bernie in ‘16)?

    Or will she use her leverage to support the person she thinks will be the best choice to beat Trump…

  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Her Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was both brilliant, and proved she could get important stuff done.
    What has Sanders done? Name some Post Offices?
    Warren is a fierce fighter for the middle class. She doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk.
    A victim of latent misogyny, and a mainstream media that worked to erase her, she had no choice but to drop out.
    I hope someday we have a President like Warren.

  5. Teve says:

    Ezra Klein:

    A quick Elizabeth Warren story that’s been on my mind this morning.

    I sat down with Warren back in June. I was one more interview squeezed between back-to-back events in California, which was itself a trip squeezed between the time she was spending in the early states.

    When I meet politicians under those scheduling circumstances, I always start by asking how they’re holding up under the travel and schedule. It helps to give people who are still human beings a chance to admit they’re tired, that this is hard on the body.

    Warren looked me dead in the eye and said that she was absolutely great. She was loving it. She had learned, at her events, to tell the lighting staff to keep the lights on the audience high, so she could see the people she was talking to the whole time.

    Once she had figured that out, and combined it with the selfie lines, and the refusal to hold big-dollar fundraisers, she had taken the experience of campaigning and made it human scale. And that made all the difference.

    She was spending every day hearing from people who had real problems and really wanted to talk about solutions, and she was finding it energizing, not exhausting. And it seemed to be true. The hardest thing about interviewing Warren, by far, was getting her to slow down.

    To steal a great line from a staffer on another campaign, a lot of politicians love “the people,” but they don’t really like people. Warren is a politician who really, really likes people. That’s the engine of her politics.

    I’m not saying she’s the only politician that felt this way. But it’s rarer than you might think, and it gave her a joy on the trail that didn’t always come out in televised debates or Senate hearings, where she didn’t have those human connections to ground her.

    I don’t remember if we got all of that initial conversation in my podcast with Warren, but we definitely kept the part on making sure she could really see who she was talking to, and the difference that made. It’s right at the beginning, and worth a listen

  6. MarkedMan says:

    @An Interested Party: I’m not talking about who she endorses. I’m talking about how she uses this very temporary leverage she has. Say she wants to endorse Bernie. Fine. She goes to him and says “I want your pledge that you will fight to have the Consumer Protection Authority restored to its former position and beyond. As proof of that, here’s the person I want in that cabinet level position, I want this level of funding in your budget proposal and I want your public guarantee that you will fight for it hard.” That’s fighting for your agenda.

    What did Bernie fight for? Pursuing various vendettas against DNC officials, and demanding a rewrite of the rules for caucuses (he felt Hillary schemed and cheated her way to victory in Iowa). He got the rewrite, which resulted in rules so onerous and impractical 11 of the 14 caucus states converted to primaries, while Iowa, well the less said about Iowa, the better.

  7. de stijl says:


    At the precinct level, the Iowa caucuses worked perfectly fine.

    The party screwed the pooch on reporting and compiling results.

  8. de stijl says:

    Sad that Warren is out.

    She was closest to me on policy.

    How old is she?

  9. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl: By design, caucuses have always been “of the moment” exercises that a) required people to be present for hours in person, b) were very inexpensive to run, and c) left no paper trail. Bernie felt that Clinton’s people had gamed the rules in 2016 and demanded that every stage must have a paper trail. They then demanded that people be able to participate remotely, that these remote mechanism accommodate people with disabilities and… well the list grew long. 11 of the 14 caucus states saw what a massive clusterf*ck this effort was going to be. They knew it would end up being as expensive as a primary, require as much or more work than a primary and that it would all happen statewide in one go without the ability to beta test it on local races. And they knew they would have Sanders people ready to pounce and denounce them as establishment tools at the slightest misstep. So they saw the writing on the wall and said, hey, a primary is an election and we’ve been running elections for a couple of centuries so let’s just find the dollars and run a primary. Iowa couldn’t switch away without risking their first in nation status and they were, well, first. Nevada asked for a bunch of exemptions and also had the benefit of seeing what went wrong in Iowa.

  10. Paine says:

    She dropped out just a few hours after I voted for her in the Washington State primary. Should have been more patient, I guess.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    Pursuing various vendettas against DNC officials, and demanding a rewrite of the rules for caucuses (he felt Hillary schemed and cheated her way to victory in Iowa). He got the rewrite, which resulted in rules so onerous and impractical 11 of the 14 caucus states converted to primaries, while Iowa, well the less said about Iowa, the better.

    Hmm…sorta shot himself in the foot there…

  12. de stijl says:


    You just validated my take on your commentary. You just saved me from ever reading you again.

    That might add up to a few hours per year. Thank you for giving me back those minutes I would have otherwise wasted.

  13. Scott F. says:

    From the email I got today from Warren’s campaign as one of her contributors:

    Some of you may remember that long before I got into electoral politics, I was asked if I would accept a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was weak and toothless. And I replied that my first choice was a consumer agency that could get real stuff done, and my second choice was no agency and lots of blood and teeth left on the floor. In this campaign, we have been willing to fight, and, when necessary, we left plenty of blood and teeth on the floor. I can think of one billionaire who has been denied the chance to buy this election.

    She’d rather not have something by name that doesn’t serve it’s stated purpose. Revolution without results would hold little appeal to her I’d think.

    I’d read that to say that she won’t endorse either candidate until one of them gives her a high level of confidence they’ll fight for her frontline issues. For Bernie, that would mean that he makes unequivocal and public pledges along the lines you’ve laid out. For Biden, he would have to run with her anti-corruption stance against not only Trump, but also his enablers in the GOP.

    I suspect Biden would be willing to do more to win her endorsement than Sanders will, if only because Bernie assumes their differences are minor – Sanders just doesn’t get that her biggest issues with him have always been about his unwillingness to do the hard work of building a workable plan to achieve what is common in the vision for the country.

  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: How can you possibly say that the caucus worked fine at the local level when the right person wasn’t even chosen? It’s almost like you believe all that nonsense about the people making the choice.

    ETA: 70 years old.

  15. An Interested Party says:

    @Guarneri: Wow, even for you, that was douchey…well done…

  16. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Iowa and New Hampshire exist

    1. To winnow the field
    2. To absorb every political journalist and analysts’ every waking hour for months on end and to overanalyze to an absurd level.
    3. Make enormous amount of ad dollars for local TV stations
    4. Let candidates test out messages and techniques

  17. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:


    Fairly certain. [Does math in head] Yes, I am 56.

    I am terrible at remembering how old I am. No idea why.

    I spent most of my 47th year thinking I was 48. In a way I got year back when I figured that out properly.

  18. Tyrell says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Warren could not make a clear case for her candidacy and appeared to be “Bernie light”. She should have tried to show clear differences between herself and Bernie instead of just slight differences.
    Middle class? I don’t know about that. She had a discussion with a parent of a college student who had worked and sacrificed to pay for the tuition. He asked her about their situation. She did not have an answer.
    She has worked against the big banks, but not the most powerful one – the Federal Reserve Bank.
    What few proposals she had seemed to point toward bigger, costlier government.