Warren Persistent Despite Losing Again

She's continuing to swing at the candidates beating her at the polls.

“Nevertheless, she persisted” has become something of a rallying cry for supporters of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. They, rightly, see her willingness to continue fighting for things she believes in a virtue.

But there comes a point where fighting a lost cause is damaging. We have reached that point.

Warren finished a distant fifth in South Carolina yesterday and would have come in sixth had Michael Bloomberg been on the ballot. That follows a third-place finish in Iowa and failing to get a single delegate in either New Hampshire or Nevada. She may well fail to win her home state Tuesday.

Not only is she not doing what similar candidates have done and dropped out of the race but she’s doubling down.

POLITICO (“Warren comes out swinging after South Carolina drubbing“):

Elizabeth Warren responded to her fourth straight loss Saturday night by taking direct aim at her rivals — including Bernie Sanders.

“This crisis demands more than a senator who has good ideas, but whose 30-year track record shows he consistently calls for things he fails to get done, and consistently opposes things he nevertheless fails to stop,” Warren said in her toughest assessment of the Vermont senator during a speech in Houston Saturday night.

It wasn’t just Sanders — whom Warren and her team had largely avoided criticizing during the campaign — she went after. She unloaded on her opponents and argued they were not up to tackling the country’s big problems.

Warren’s shift comes at a low point for her candidacy. She has not placed first or second in any of the four contests before next week’s Super Tuesday.

“I’ll be the first to say that the first four contests haven’t gone exactly as I’d hoped,” she said. “But Super Tuesday is three days away and we’re looking forward to gaining as many delegates to the convention as we can — from California to right here in Texas.”

Warren began her remarks by discussing the coronavirus and the potential of an outbreak causing the American economy to “crumble.” She then presented herself as the candidate with the most competence and best ideas.

“We are picking a president — and we need someone whose core values can be trusted, who has a plan for how to govern, and who can actually get it done,” she said. “I will be that president. I’ve been at the center of this kind of crisis before,” she added, noting her experience during the 2008 financial crisis.

She then turned to her rivals.

“Let’s be blunt,” Warren said. “This crisis demands more than a former vice president so eager to cut deals with Mitch McConnell and the Republicans that he’ll trade good ideas for bad ones,” she said of Joe Biden without naming him.

“This crisis demands more than a billionaire mayor who believes that since he’s rich enough to buy network airtime to pretend he’s the president, that entitles him to be president — and whose track record as mayor shows he’ll govern to protect himself and his rich friends over everyone else,” she said of Michael Bloomberg, again not addressing him by name.

If there were any questions about whether she would drop out of the race, she dispensed with them. “My campaign is built for the long haul,” she said.

There is simply no path for Warren getting to even a plurality of the pledged delegates at this point. She’s fourth in the national polling averages. She’s a distant fourth in the delegate count. She’s not favored to win a single state on Super Tuesday—not even Massachusetts.

So, rather obviously, she’s hoping to be the winner of a brokered convention. That’s not entirely implausible. One could see a scenario where Sanders and Biden have far and away the most pledged delegates but neither has a majority. While Biden would seem the likeliest to be able to forge a coalition—getting the endorsement of Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar—Warren would be an intriguing compromise.

But, if that’s the strategy, a positive campaign would seem the obvious way to go. Blasting Biden and Bloomberg at this stage just makes it harder to get their support.

If she’s instead acting as a Sanders surrogate, then why attack his competence and temperament?

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 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.

Comments

  1. Cheryl Rofer says:

    Damn women! Don’t know their place.

    James, you could have as easily told Bloomberg to go. He has no real plans and is trying to buy the presidency for his vanity.

    And yes, she has her own candidacy. No, not a Sanders surrogate, as hard as it may be to imagine a woman with agency.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    James, you could have as easily told Bloomberg to go. He has no real plans and is trying to buy the presidency for his vanity.

    I actually did that in the previous post.

    Bloomberg is doing far better in the national polls than Warren and is projected to amass far more delegates on Super Tuesday. Given that that’s his first test at the ballot box in this contest, I fully understand why he wouldn’t drop out. But I think it would be better for the party if he did.

    No, not a Sanders surrogate, as hard as it may be to imagine a woman with agency.

    I’m not questioning her agency but her strategy. She has no viable path to a plurality of the pledged delegates. Indeed, it’s quite unlikely that she finishes better than fourth. So, I’m assuming her plan is to win at the convention and am trying to figure out how she plans to do that.

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  3. Gustopher says:

    But there comes a point where fighting a lost cause is damaging. We have reached that point.

    I too believe the South should emphasize genuine patriotism to the United States rather than regionalism.

    But Warren (and everyone else) has no reason to bow out before Super Tuesday. The front loaded schedule for the nomination means that there is almost no time between South Carolina and Super Tuesday, and every candidate who has been planning for the long haul has already committed a lot of resources, and no one quite trusts the polling, and there is a fairly large discontent with the front runners.

    Hang on for three days and hope for a miracle.

    And with the two front runners being septuagenarian men… maybe the path to the nomination is to just persist until the convention, in an ideological spot between them, in case one of these ancient fossils past their prime has a health problem.

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  4. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    Bloomberg is doing far better in the national polls than Warren and is projected to amass far more delegates on Super Tuesday.

    BFD, Big Deal! Bloomberg is viscerally disliked by the other candidates and other Democrats, he will not be cutting any deals.

    From the exit polls, Warren has favorability with SC voters about in line as the other Dems:

    Favorable 52%, unfavorable 40%

    For Bloomberg:

    Favorable 26%, unfavorable 66%

    (And SC has the type of voter Bloomberg is targeting).

    Bloomberg is going nowhere, Super Tuesday or no Super Tuesday.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/exit-polls-2020-south-carolina-primary/

    Bloomberg is a bubble destined to deflate.

    2
  5. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Early voting has already ended in Super Tuesday states. It would be imprudent to drop out in the next three days, before those votes are counted.

    4
  6. Michael G. Kaminsky says:

    James, here is a question:

    Bloomberg would divide the not-Sanders vote and hurt all the other candidates while helping Sanders, it is clearly in Sanders’ interest for Bloomberg to stick around.

    So – why does Sanders attack Bloomberg?

    1
  7. Teve says:

    Because Allah is merciful, all three old white men are going to have sudden heart attacks and keel over dead.

    WARREN 2020!

    5
  8. mattbernius says:

    She has no viable path to a plurality of the pledged delegates. Indeed, it’s quite unlikely that she finishes better than fourth. So, I’m assuming her plan is to win at the convention and am trying to figure out how she plans to do that.

    Or perhaps this isn’t about winning and instead has shifted to stopping Sanders.

    Different perspective — if (and this is a big *if*) Warren doesn’t want Sanders to be the nominee, then its logical for her to stay in the race. I suspect a significant number of her voters have Sanders rather than Biden as their second choice.

    Given that while Progressive, Warren is an institutionalist (and a Democrat), it would make sense that a Biden presidency, rather than a Sanders one, would be more appealing to her. So in this respect, she’s most likely taking voters from Sanders rather than Biden.

    I also suspect that Warren would be a better cabinet fit for Biden.

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  9. Kathy says:

    Predictions are hard. Especially about the future.

    Attributed to far too many people, but good advice nonetheless.

    2
  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    Warren should stay in. She bleeds off progressive votes from Sanders.

    4
  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    And yes, she has her own candidacy. No, not a Sanders surrogate, as hard as it may be to imagine a woman with agency.

    You know some women with agency? The Democratic voters in IA, NH, NV and SC. In each case women are a majority, so the drive-by sexism charge is absurd now. Women have all the power they need to nominate a Gillibrand, a Harris, a Klobuchar or a Warren. You can blame men for a whole hell of a lot, but not for the outcome of Democratic primaries.

    Women are not a voting block. I’ve been saying this (and bemoaning it) for a long time, now. Black women are a voting block. White women are not. The assumption by many on the Left that women, like African Americans or gays, are an oppressed minority, and that women’s rights should follow the Civil Rights model is simply wrong. Women are a majority, a majority which flatly rejects the notion that they are a voting block.

    I wish it wasn’t so, I’d love to believe this majority will swing Left en masse, but election after election, it does not happen.

    5
  12. James Joyner says:

    @charon:

    Bloomberg is viscerally disliked by the other candidates and other Democrats, he will not be cutting any deals.

    Bloomberg is likely to have more delegates than Warren at the end of voting on Super Tuesday. We’ll see how long he remains in the race after that.

    But, in the very likely chance that neither Sanders nor Biden has a majority of pledged delegates when the primaries are over, Bloomberg will absolutely be cutting a deal. I doubt very much that he’s the nominee. But he’ll almost certainly try to ensure Sanders isn’t.

    2
  13. James Joyner says:

    @mattbernius: @Michael Reynolds: It’s indeed a possibility that, despite their ideological similarity, Warren hopes to derail Sanders. She’ll definitely draw the wrath of the Bernie Bros if she’s successful.

  14. Scott F. says:

    @mattbernius:

    Different perspective — if (and this is a big *if*) Warren doesn’t want Sanders to be the nominee, then its logical for her to stay in the race. I suspect a significant number of her voters have Sanders rather than Biden as their second choice.

    I don’t think this is such a big *if.* And I’m a Warren supporter who has Biden as my second choice.

    Warren stated her position quite clearly in the SC debate. She believes progressivism has one shot to make significant headway in American politics. With the country reeling from Trump and the political/financial/media structures that have enabled him, there is appetite in this country for big, structural change. The polling numbers if you were to combine Sanders and Warren into the progressive “lane” would suggest this is true.

    So what is the best outcome for progressivism in the long term?

    Sanders wins the nomination, then loses to Trump in the general? (Nope, the narrative will be that the country rejects progressivism for all time.).

    Sander wins the nomination, wins the White House, then can’t get a damn thing done, because he doesn’t have a plan beyond “Revolution!” (Nope, the narrative will be that progressivism doesn’t work and it will be at least 20 years before it’s considered again.)

    Biden wins the nomination, chooses a moderate as his running mate, then loses in the general. (Not good for the country, but it is a reinforcement of the notion that the country was hungry for bigger change. Look ahead to 2024.)

    Biden wins the nomination, chooses someone more progressive than he as his running mate, and wins the WH. (This is why Biden is my second choice. He could look to the future with his running mate, return some normalcy with his governance, then pass the torch.)

    And finally, no candidate has a majority going into the convention and some kind of deal has to be brokered. Sanders has no means to form a coalition and the Democratic superdelegates understand that giving the nomination to Biden would keep far too many of Sanders’ supporters at home. What to do?

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  15. charon says:

    @Scott F.:

    Sanders has no means to form a coalition

    Two possibilities:

    1) Two candidates (Sanders not included) combine delegates to a first ballot majority.

    2) It goes to a second ballot.

    the Democratic superdelegates understand

    Hard to say what they understand. Bear in mind these are individuals with varied priorities and who have to face a variety of constituencies.

  16. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    Bloomberg will absolutely be cutting a deal.

  17. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    Bloomberg will absolutely be cutting a deal.

    Thereby getting Bloomberg cooties all over whomever he deals with. Color me skeptical, there is too much hostility to him.

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius:

    I also suspect that Warren would be a better cabinet fit for Biden.

    I’ve observed that while there has been a steady hum of speculation about who any of the actual Democrats in the race might pick as a running mate or for a cabinet pick, there has been zero speculation about it for Bernie. Think about it – have you ever seen or heard a discussion as to how this person or that could help Bernie with such and such a voting bloc, or how someone would make a good Secretary of State? Even Bernie supporters don’t think of him like that. I think deep down they realize he will pick people reluctantly and, like Trump, fail to empower or support them. He most certainly will not be looking at seasoned veterans but rather scouring the countryside for the modern equivalent of the Depression Era Wobblies.

    2
  19. Scott F. says:

    @charon:

    1) Two candidates (Sanders not included) combine delegates to a first ballot majority.

    With whom would a second place Biden most likely combine delegates that would put him over the top – Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, or Warren?

  20. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You know some women with agency? The Democratic voters in IA, NH, NV and SC. In each case women are a majority, so the drive-by sexism charge is absurd now. Women have all the power they need to nominate a Gillibrand, a Harris, a Klobuchar or a Warren. You can blame men for a whole hell of a lot, but not for the outcome of Democratic primaries.

    People are largely a product of the media they consume — look at Fox viewers for an example of this. The media a person consumes gets the rough boundaries on what is acceptable. Warren is being disregarded by the media.

    The narrative coming out of New Hampshire, for example was Bernie and Buttigieg neck and neck, Biden doing poorly and Klobuchar doing better than expected, with no mention of Warren (she was third).

    The WSJ did head to head polling of all candidates against Trump, and left out Warren.

    Etc.

    The sexism kicked in before people got to the polls.

    4
  21. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: Bernie would make a great Labor Secretary. Or head of Veteran’s affairs.

    These are the two things he has cared most about, and done stuff for.

    2
  22. charon says:

    @Scott F.:

    Bloomberg: Impossible

    Buttigieg: Two centrist white guys? Unlikely as VP, but maybe for a cabinet position

    Klobuchar: Maybe.

    Warren: Most likely, ticket balance plus she campaigns effectively.

    The Root did an analysis of which candidates are best on black issues. Biden came in second, behind Warren.

    3
  23. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    A lot of women are skeptical of female candidates because of what happened to Clinton.

    2
  24. Polimom says:

    @Gustopher:

    The narrative coming out of New Hampshire, for example was Bernie and Buttigieg neck and neck, Biden doing poorly and Klobuchar doing better than expected, with no mention of Warren (she was third).

    How do “…Klobuchar doing better than expected” and “The sexism kicked in before people got to the polls.” work together? Warren wasn’t the only female on the Dem primary ballot here. I know moderate, liberal and conservative Dems who all voted for Klobuchar. (Heck, I voted for her too.) None of them discussed gender. None of them watch Fox.

    I agree with@Michael Reynolds:

    Women have all the power they need to nominate a Gillibrand, a Harris, a Klobuchar or a Warren

    If they aren’t voting for someone, it’s because they don’t find them suitable. Women aren’t a group voting block anymore than red haired or brown-eyed people are.

    2
  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: Labor would be interesting. Especially if he had a solid and seasoned second in command who understood how to work the levers.

    Can’t really see him as Veterans affairs for a number of reasons, not the least of which Is that I suspect he would view it as a sop.

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott F.:

    (This is why Biden is my second choice. He could look to the future with his running mate, return some normalcy with his governance, then pass the torch.)

    To whom? The septuagenarian male or the septuagenarian female? (Hopefully, you have another non-septuagenarian in mind. Is this where AOC jumps the line?)

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @charon: Annnnnddddd… there’s the move from “I’ll crawl over ground glass to vote for any D” to “unless it’s [not my guy/gal].”

  28. charon says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    That isn’t me, I even vote for (hypothetical) Bloomberg.

    No need though, I am pretty sure Bloomberg will crash and burn.

    1
  29. James Joyner says:

    @charon:

    I am pretty sure Bloomberg will crash and burn.

    I guess that depends on how we define that. He’ll likely still outperform Warren, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar across the board. But the only way he was going to do very well Tuesday was if Biden did very poorly yesterday. Biden instead did even better than expected. There’s no rationale for Bloomberg now. (Although, as many have pointed out in various threads today, a lot of people early voted.)

  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Warren was not ignored by MSNBC and that is the natural home for Democrats.

    1
  31. Scott F. says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Since the septuagenarian female progressive wouldn’t reach the age of the other septuagenarian male until the end of a second term, that would work for me. I’d prefer Kamala Harris, who isn’t in the Progressive Caucus but whose policy preference would put her further left than Biden.

    Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin would be a nice fit, IMHO.

  32. Scott F. says:

    And Buttigieg is out…

    2
  33. Gustopher says:

    @Polimom:

    How do “…Klobuchar doing better than expected” and “The sexism kicked in before people got to the polls.” work together?

    Sexism isn’t an all or nothing proposition. No discrimination is, until it gets to the one-drop rule, or Nazis.

    Warren has been mostly invisible in primary reporting since voting began. Partly I would level blame at her campaign for not getting in front of the media enough and generating interest, but part of it is just plain sexism. Warren beating Biden can either be summarized as “Iowa: Buttigieg and Biden, then Warren, then Biden…” or “Buttigieg and Bernie battle for the lead while Biden underperforms.” Both are accurate. One erases a candidate.

    5
  34. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: I’m sure the people who own the media Really don’t want a wealth tax.

    2
  35. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    I guess that depends on how we define that.

    I expect he will seriously underperform the polls on March 3. That will trash his only argument – electability (people expect other people to vote for him) and his support will dry up. Paper tiger.

    He’ll likely still outperform Warren, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar across the board.

    He will not be a factor post March 17. (Buttigieg is out, Klobuchar has no future).

    2
  36. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @charon: The Root? Bwahahahahahahahahahaha

    1
  37. charon says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Do you have an actual point you could enlighten me with?

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @charon: So this was just poetic, I take it–

    Thereby getting Bloomberg cooties all over whomever he deals with. Color me skeptical, there is too much hostility to him.

    But that’s not you… nuh huh…

  39. charon says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    If “Bloomberg cooties” is too colorful perhaps “tarnished by association?” The man has very high unfavorables, 26% favorable against 66% unfavorable in SC for example. I find it highly unlikely Bloomberg would be interested in VP but he would be a more disastrous choice on a D ticket that Sarah Palin was for McCain.

    I find it hard to imagine any deal for him, what could he be offered that he might want?

    I might, of course, be wrong, but I do not forsee him getting enough delegates to do any deals anyway.

  40. EddieinCA says:

    In my opinion, any VP choice that doesn’t include a person of color is leaving votes at home. Because in 2016 Hillary wins if AAs vote in Milwaukee and Detroit and Philly. They stayed home.

    1
  41. Ken_L says:

    It’s a little ghoulish, but any analysis of the behavior of Bernie’s competitors must take into account the non-negligible chance that health problems could force his sudden withdrawal any time between now and November. Warren may decide to remain in the contest as a second choice for progressives, just in case the frontrunner gets scratched.

    3