The question is being asked by a piece in Politico whether Elizabeth Warren, despite early faults, has deftly and strategically worked her way into the position of being viewed as an alternative to the “democratic socialism” of Bernie Sanders, and the middle of the road moderate persona of Joe Biden.
Here’s the meatiest part of Politico’s story on how Warren has infiltrated into moderate circles while retaining her progressive firebrand credentials:
Establishment and moderate Democrats haven’t necessarily been won over to Warren’s camp yet — many still point to former Vice President Joe Biden as their preferred candidate. But the tensions that once marked Warren’s relationship with moderate Democrats have begun to dissipate as she methodically lays out her agenda and shows a folksier, more accessible side that wasn’t always apparent in her role as a blue-state senator and progressive icon.
With 99 town halls and 30,000 selfies under her belt, Warren has offered a level of access that has disarmed some critics. She’s also made a point of traveling to some of the reddest of red-state locales — Mississippi, Utah and West Virginia, among them.
Jen Psaki, who served as White House communications director in the Obama administration, said moderates who might have been turned off by Warren in the past are now giving her a chance.
“I think [there] was a perception — and I’m not saying that’s accurate — that she would only be able to speak to liberal parts of the country,” Psaki said. But skeptics now increasingly view Warren as “an alternative to Bernie Sanders on the progressive wing of the party and also someone, when you listen to her to policies, they’re palatable to people who wouldn’t have thought they were palatable to them.”
The idea here is that Bernie Sanders can’t win a national campaign, according to some of these moderate Democratic groups. However, they know that without appealing to the base of the Democratic Party by supporting some further left progressive policies, Democrats could struggle to beat Donald Trump next year. Elizabeth Warren, who sits much to the left of Joe Biden, but a little to the right of Bernie Sanders, offers a split the difference compromise for some voters who would like a more ardent progressive fighter as the Democratic nominee in 2020, but also want someone they believe can ultimately win.
Just days ago we reported on Warren’s poll numbers, which in some cases have begun to eclipse Bernie and push the Massachusetts Senator into second-place. Monmouth University also released a poll on Wednesday showing the same movement and provides some clarity into where her newfound support is coming from:
Among a field of 24 contenders, Biden currently has the support of 32% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters. This is similar to his 33% support last month. Warren’s support has jumped five points to 15% from 10% in May. Sanders holds onto 14% support, which is similar to his 15% support last month. Warren’s biggest gain has come from self-identified liberals (25%, up from 14% in May) [Emphasis added].
Self-identified liberals jumped over 10 points in support of Warren which means that the trend seems to be born out. Some Democratic primary voters are viewing Warren as a candidate who may, conceivably, be able to compete in more parts of the country than Bernie Sanders when it comes to pushing a progressive agenda. Many of her proposals are popular on paper, though sometimes the nitty-gritty details over the cost of, say, wiping student loans off the books, can begin to erode support. However, Warren isn’t afraid to push her legislative proposals as a way to provide an answer for any given concern raised by voters.
Warren’s movement in the field has been the only real measurable change in polling data over the past couple of months, aside from Beto’s hard fall. The Democratic debate next week will either help propel her further or could easily knock her back down a few pegs depending on how the debate pans out.