Neither is blinking.
Bernie Sanders thinks he has a lock on his supporters. Elizabeth Warren thinks she can get enough of them, and enough elsewhere, to run regardless. Allies and supporters are anxious they’ll destroy both their chances, and kneecap progressive politics along the way.
Some close to Sanders feel like Warren is trying to muscle him out of the race, and laugh at the idea that she will be able to compete with him for his supporters. Some close to Warren feel like Sanders has an outsize sense of his power over the nomination and his chances to actually win it or beat Donald Trump.
“She’s engaged in a chess game where she’s moving her pawns around and she’s trying to demonstrate to many people, including Bernie, that not only is she running, but is fully capable of running, and is so far ahead that you should just give in to her,” said one key player in Sanders’s world.
Warren’s opening flop last week with her DNA test has Sanders’s team thinking she might not be so hard to beat after all.
Sanders hasn’t decided about running, though it weighs heavily on him to make sure Trump loses. Part of the thinking behind his week-long cross-country tour campaigning for other candidates is testing how much his appeal has held up (so far, to over-packed overflow rooms). As Sanders decides whether to run again, advisers often cite the 45 percent of the primary vote he got in 2016, though the senator himself thinks less about getting deference from his performance two years ago than drawing on the strength he’s continued to build since.