It’s Thursday, March 5. In today’s newsletter: Some theories from strategists and analysts about what went wrong in Elizabeth Warren’s presidential run. Plus: Barack Obama hasn’t endorsed, and probably won’t anytime soon.
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What Went Wrong for Warren
One of the biggest mysteries of 2020 is now what in the world happened to Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign. For a chunk of 2019, the Massachusetts senator was steadily surging in the polls. She was briefly treated as a front-runner by other candidates.
And then, suddenly, she started falling. Today, Warren’s dropped out of the race. Once voting started, she never finished better than third place in any single state—including Massachusetts, where she won her Senate seat handily just two years ago.
Unlike past presidential front-runners who have imploded, Warren never made a true cringe-worthy gaffe, never really switched up her tactic (plans, plans, plans), or got complacent with campaigning from the comfortable, if temporary, perch of front-runner.
My colleague Elaine Godfrey sought out some theories from strategists and analysts about what went wrong.
Was Warren’s support for Medicare for All her undoing?
It sure seems to me like her troubles started with Medicare for All. She was very clear: I’m a capitalist, not a socialist, but then she did Medicare for All and got lumped in with Bernie. That seemed to be, as Churchill would say, the beginning of the end. When she [announced her support for it], I just flinched, like, Oh, come on! ’Cause you’re never gonna get out of it!
—James Carvile, Democratic strategist
Did electability concerns scare voters off?
For voters who were looking for a liberal, Bernie Sanders–like candidate but wanted a new model—somebody who was not as old, not as male, not as crotchety—[Warren] looked like this new great option. And for other voters, especially for a lot of women who wouldn’t put themselves in the “very liberal” category, there was an appeal to her because she seemed more unifying than Bernie Sanders. But both of those sides [ultimately] felt very unsatisfied: If you were worried about electability, her decision to say, Well, I’m not totally backing away from Medicare for All made you think she’s still going to be hit for being too liberal in November.
—Amy Walter, national editor for The Cook Political Report
How much of it was sexism, plain and simple?