Elizabeth Warren could well win the Democratic presidential nomination. An Iowa Starting Line poll from mid-August showed the Massachusetts senator with a commanding lead over the other candidates in the first caucus state. Her poll numbers are strong in New Hampshire, too. At the Iowa State Fair this month, she spoke to a crowd of thousands, and she has built one of the best organizing structures in the race. After a slow start, her fundraising is now robust, with 25 million in the bank, none of it from big-dollar donors. Voters wait in line for hours to take selfies with her, and press notes into her hand thanking her for her strong political commitments.
The rise of the progressive Warren seems like a natural development for a Democratic Party that has been shifting left in recent years, and that saw unprecedented success with female candidates in the 2018 midterm elections. But even as voters flock to Warren, some remain wary of whether she can beat Donald Trump in a general election. Maybe she’s too far left, they offer, or maybe a woman can’t win.
The New York Times ran a hand-wringing article reporting on conversations with several dozen voters, who offered both enthusiasm for Warren and doubts about her electoral viability. “They’re not ready yet,” Gail Houghton, a retiree of Council Bluffs, told the Times, referring to voters who she thought would be unwilling to vote for a woman president. Jan Phelps, of New Hampshire, offered, “I think she would make an amazing president. I’m worried about whether she can win. I worry that she’s being pulled even further to the left and that concerns me. Because we need to win.” Meanwhile, the Washington Post political correspondent Dave Weigel tweeted, “To understand Bidenmentum, you’ve got to have some of the conversations I had yesterday: Middle-aged women explaining that 2016 showed that voters won’t elect a female president, so they’ve got to be strategic.”