Elizabeth Warren: The next Democrat President.
The progressive with a loyal base and phenomenal fundraising power — Warren hits at the heart of where the Democrat party is going.
She will win.
Elizabeth Warren will secure the Democrat party’s nomination and be the candidate who wins the 2020 election. She will go one step further than her colleague Hilary Clinton and defeat a sitting president much like Clinton’s husband did nearly three decades ago.
The Senator has the potential to align two hitherto disconnected movements within the party and use her nearly unrivalled abilities as a fundraiser — particularly amongst small donors — to win. Her identity is crucial to her claiming dominance of the progressive candidacy in the party but also appeal to a broader base through her experience and qualifications without being seen an establishment figure.
Across December and January, it seemed like Warren’s team announced her intentions about three or four times. All announcements lacked the ‘umph’ of her colleagues, it seemed. Harris — announcing her plans on Martin Luther King Day was poignant, and Amy Klobuchar’s announcement was laced with messaging as she battled the weather, bravely soldiering on against the elements.
But that won’t matter; Warren’s name has been in the mix for a while. And besides, who actually remembers the day a candidate declares?
Well, the 8000 people who donated an average of $37.5 to her campaign when she announced her exploratory committee — not even her candidacy — certainly do. Warren amassed $300,000 in that one day. And it was during the holiday season. That’s usually a time people are with their family and friends not reaching into their pocked to fund a campaign that might not have even be happening!
This ability is not guaranteed, it is worked on and it is mastered. Leading up to the midterms last year, Warren was comfortably raising $1,000,000 per month, and while much of that will have fuelled by presidential speculation, there doesn’t appear to be any sign of the money slowing.
Moreover, in her Senate campaign, Warren received more small donations as a proportion of her overall donations than any other Democrat or Republican, 56% (for complete fairness, it is worth mentioning that Independent, and potential rival, Bernie Sanders, topped the overall list with 70%). Her closest Democrat rival, Beto O’Rourke, got fewer than half, 46%. The rest of the field do not even appear on the leader board.
While Beto’s overall campaign dollars raised was higher than Warren’s, he was running in an extremely competitive race from the position of the underdog against a Republican giant that had gained national attention. Warren walked to victory with a +24 point win and raised $19.4 million in the process, an entire $10 million dollars more than Bernie. The fact she would have won with half that war-chest is not only testament to the enthusiasm and belief of her donors, but to Warren’s political skill, also.
A sufficiently funded campaign is absolutely essential, especially in a long-drawn out contest over nearly two years, and Warren’s abilities here are amongst history’s very best. But more than the raw skill, the specific ability to tap into small donations in a time when people want big money out of politics, has profound political as well as financial ramifications and puts the Senator in a league of her own.
This is far from one way traffic, either. Her work for the party throughout 2018 will not go unnoticed when she begins to ask for favours back. I have said in the corresponding piece that her activity hasn’t appeared to benefit her in the polls, yet. Well, the crux is, that’s not what she’s aiming for. The calls, policy papers, personal thank-yous, state visits, not to mention the $7.6 million directed to Democrat campaigns in 2018, have been designed to sure up support from her party, not necessarily those voting in polls. Thinking ahead, this relationship building could prove the crucial in a contested convention when super delegates will only get to vote after the first ballot.
Warren is an asset to her party, and they are an asset to her.
Polls, Positions, and Predictions:
The most simple riposte to Warren’s fairly average polling numbers is:
“So what, the primaries, let alone the general, are about a million years away”
The are untold twists and turns that could derail seemingly strong campaigns. Just look at how far the Democrat party has come in the last 18 months, think about where they could be in another 18. Or, think about where Donald Trump was this time in 2015, or even Barack Obama in 2007.
However, that won’t be enough to ease people’s doubts about Warren, not least my own, as I have demonstrated, fair enough, she is not leading the polls. But on closer examination all is not lost. Broadly speaking, she is behind Biden and Bernie, and is usually competing for third place with Kamala Harris. First of all, Biden might not even run. But more seriously, a litmus test for the primaries appears to be:
“Are you over 60 and have you run before? If so, I do not want to vote for you”
Now, OK, Warren is over 60, but she is far from the narrative of the old white dude which the arbitrary age figure is really speaking to. That said, therefore, even with Bernie in the race, there is absolutely not assurance that him or Biden could keep their place in the top two. Not least because Biden has a habit of sh*tting the bed during his campaigns.
Secondly, the picture in New Hampshire, and even Iowa, is not looking at all that bad, especially if you discount Biden and/or Bernie. Central to her capacity to attract small donations will be Warren’s operation in New Hampshire. Typically the most liberal leaning of the early states, Sanders was able to capture over 60% of the vote against Hilary in 2016. Warren is clearly taking the state seriously, as reflected by her staff moving out there to work in major positions for her campaign. And while it is early days, there are polls scoring her in the high-teens, knocking on the door of second place; again, behind a guy who might not even run!
At the time of writing, Warren and her team have made five trips to Iowa already, as opposed to Harris’ one (for the CNN town hall). Opposing Harris’ larger, more national feel, though, Warren’s events have been more intimate. Playing to the Senator’s ability to connect in an empathetic way and starkly contrasting the slightly frostier, more combative approach of her rival. She is evidently taking the Hawkeye State seriously and the strategy could pay off. The state typically rewards candidates with conviction and a strong personal narrative, rather than raw credentials, two formidable stings in Warren’s bow.
Warren fares the worst in national polls, but that isn’t surprising and, dare I say it, doesn’t even matter yet. A smart, state-by-state strategy with strong performances in Iowa and New Hampshire could set her on a very positive course. It is hard to see rivals other than Bernie and Biden doing better across the opening two states.
She is in tune with the direction of the party:
Much like I feel her personal brand is suited to Iowa and New Hampshire, Warren feels very in touch with the party’s central nervous system at the moment.
The last one or two years have seen the party’s centre of gravity shift and many candidates, who are evidently not progressive, are trying to shoe-horn their way into the label as it becomes the buzz word of the early campaign. Aside from being painfully cringe-worthy, these candidates will get found out and, if they’re smart and confident in their abilities, should distance themselves from that position and run their own campaigns in the way Amy Klobuchar is doing to her credit.
It feels slightly like what is happening with the Labour party in the UK. Now, nearly 4 years ago, long-time left wing backbench MP and habitual party rebel, Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader and the party shifted radically to the Left. For the party’s moderate MPs, they were caught in limbo and many have in fact this week resigned from the party to form an Independent Group in the British Parliament.
This would be an absolute disaster if something similar happened to the Democrats. I am fairly confident the party is robust enough to survive, I mean, it has been through fierce contests before.
Warren has the capacity to unite two complementary forces existing in the party (and potentially the county; that is what the party’s hopes, at least) and Warren has more potential to do this than any other candidate in the field.
On one side, the aforementioned policy shift to the left is embodied no more than Warren herself. With the possible exception of Bernie, the progressive agenda will be won by Warren. The fact she hasn’t run before and for some voters, this will be the first exposure to her they have had, is also an advantage. Bernie’s message might still be fresh, but his branding is not. Even better for Warren is if she ends up against someone like Harris or Biden, then voters are faced with a stark choice, and if the current direction of ideological travel is anything to go by, there is only one winner.
On the other side, there is a significant women’s movement that has its heart in #MeToo. The Democrats have attempted to operate a zero-tolerance approach towards the accused, be it in politics, the media, or sport. While Kirsten Gillibrand is set to frame her campaign most explicitly in this context, she faces her own problems in doing this. Not least her take down of Al Franken, but more of that later. Demonstrated in her inability to sometimes even poll at 1%.
Warren’s own brand of feminism — ‘Nevertheless, she persisted’ — is a powerful asset and she no doubt has credibility there.
As opposed to Gillibrand, it is Warren’s progressive ideology that underpins an idea that while being a woman is great, it is not in and of itself, enough in 2020. For those who want a female president, they only had the choice to vote for Hilary in 2016; this time it will be different.
She can frame her campaign around women issues, but not to the detriment of anything else (in a way that perhaps Hilary’s ‘I’m with her’, did). The ability she possesses therefore to thread two social movements together for the first time in history is an enormous for her campaign.
At the moment, Warren’s campaign seems to be plodding along. Little bounce in the polls as a result of massive fundraising and multiple announcements might have some of her supporters worrying. She is also the oldest of the women in the field and as many Democrats are looking to younger faces, yes, maybe she is too late to the race.
Her main challengers at the moment, however, are Bernie and Biden (status unknown at time of writing). Significant name recognition from both Bernie and Biden will no doubt detract support from hitherto relatively unknown candidates across the county, but what happens when/if one doesn’t run? No one is better equipped than Warren.
She is passionate, she has loyal supporters, she is a world-class fundraiser, she is experienced and qualified without being ‘establishment’, and she can unite the party through her championing of two otherwise previously disconnected movements.
Elizabeth Warren will be the Democrat candidate.
Next up, Kamala Harris.