Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and progressive activist, has been slowly fading in terms of her 2020 star power. A series of missteps recently, concerning her ancestral heritage and connection to Native American tribes, seem to have turned Democratic primary voters off and sent them looking in other directions. At the same time, Texas native Beto O’Rourke, who just lost a close Senate race to Republican Ted Cruz in November, is leapfrogging Warren in the latest poll of possible 2020 Democratic candidates to challenge Donald Trump.
Report from Newsweek on the polling and Warren’s fall:
It’s still very (very) early to draw many conclusions about 2020. The primaries are still a ways off, and polling this early mostly measures name recognition.
Warren did seem to misstep when she released results of a DNA test showing she had a small amount of Native American heritage in response to President Donald Trump’s repeated mockery of her heritage claim. Republicans also mocked the DNA test, and some Native Americans pointed out that DNA did not make one part of a Native American tribe.
O’Rourke, meanwhile, has jumped up in the polls despite narrowly losing his bid for a Senate seat against Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Other recent polls found his potential support around 9 percent as well.
Sure, it’s early, but these polls do have meaning when it comes to driving the opinions of Democratic voters rather than reflecting it. Disengaged voters will see the headlines and start to get feel for which candidates seem to be capturing the attention heading into 2019.
Here’s the full list for the CNN poll referenced by Newsweek. Polling from Dec. 6 to Dec. 9.
- Joe Biden 30%
- Bernie Sanders 14%
- Beto O’Rourke 9%
- Cory Booker 5%
- Kamala Harris 4%
- John Kerry 4%
- Elizabeth Warren 3%
- Michael Bloomberg 3%
- Amy Klobuchar 3%
- Eric Holder 1%
- Kirstin Gillibrand 1%
- Steve Bullock 1%
- Sherrod Brown 1%
- Jay Inslee 1%
- Terry McAuliffe 1%
There are more on the CNN list beyond McAuliffe, but none of them actually top zero percent. Biden, capturing about one-third of the Democratic voting base right now, will most assuredly launch a campaign and give it one last try.
I’d be surprised if O’Rourke actually does launch a presidential campaign having just lost a narrow Senate race that he might have been able to win if he softened some of his more liberal positions. Then again, that’s why his base loves him since he went in swinging and refused to capitulate to the middle ground on several key issues.
With Donald Trump having zero political experience, and Barack Obama before him have only just won a U.S. Senate seat in 2004 before launching a Presidential campaign in 2007, the precedent would have existed for O’Rourke to make the easy case for his candidacy if he won back in November. After all, a Democrat who could win statewide in Texas would surely be in a great position to compete nationally. However, he fell just short, so the cards must be played as dealt.
It’s not that he has no case now, he has more name recognition than most of the Democratic field, and perhaps that is the most important thing Democratic voters will want to see in 2020 to counteract President Trump’s control of the media narrative.