Massachusets Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be announcing the end of her presidential campaign in a press conference on Thursday which now sets up a two-person race between former vice president Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Yes, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is still in the race, but she hasn’t garnered anything more than a single delegate on Super Tuesday from American Samoa.
It’s unclear if Warren will endorse Sanders or Biden, or simply walk away from the campaign without giving her blessing. As the LA Times reports on Warren’s exit, her niche overlaps with both candidates to some extent:
Elizabeth Warren has decided to drop out of the presidential race after failing in her attempts to bridge the Democratic Party’s left and right flanks behind her progressive policy agenda, a source familiar with her decision said.
It was still unclear if she would endorse either of the two remaining candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden or Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. She spoke to both in separate calls on Wednesday.
While parts of Warren’s campaign agenda skewed closer to Sanders’ call for revolutionary change, many of her older, suburban supporters may be more comfortable with Biden’s calls for more traditional Democratic reforms. So the political impact on the campaign may be muted.
Warren attempted to ride the line by adopting some of Bernie’s policy positions including Medicare For All, but she fell short in trying to explain those positions when being asked to put pen to paper and explain the financials of it all. She couldn’t out-Bernie Bernie, nor should she really have tried. The primary was crowded, though, and her finely-tuned positioning in between the moderate and progressive-left lane simply didn’t attract enough support to create any meaningful wins or finishes anywhere in the country.
What does this mean now for the Biden-Bernie showdown? This could go either direction, but it sure seems like the momentum is all on Joe Biden’s side right now moving forward.
The size of the backing between Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and Bloomberg dwarfs the number still holding on to Warren. Her departure, even if it means some of her supporters go to Sanders, will still end up benefitting Biden more.
If recent days have taught us anything, it’s that voters began getting nervous over Biden’s argument of electability in January and early February, but then apparently decided to go all-in after teasing some with Sanders in the early states.
The backlash against Sanders and warnings from Democratic pundits following his wins in New Hampshire and Nevada seems to have quickly turned a good number of Democratic voters away from democratic socialism and back to the “safe” arms of Joe Biden.
Warren ultimately has two paths. She can throw in with Bernie, or try to get some acquiescing from Biden on her policy positions to earn an endorsement, according to Buzzfeed News:
Among close Warren allies, there has been disagreement in recent days about whether she should endorse Sanders, with whom she is closely aligned ideologically, or try to extract policy commitments or a possible cabinet position from Biden, who for now looks most likely to capture the nomination.
Biden and Warren spoke on Wednesday night, a Biden campaign official said.
It wouldn’t be shocking to see either event happen, but it seems more likely that Warren will toss in with Biden since he appears, at least momentarily, to be the front runner in the race depending on how California shakes out.
If we look back to 2016, when the race became a one-vs-one Hillary against Bernie very quickly, you could compare the current race to that one. The only difference is that Joe Biden does not have Hillary Clinton’s negatives attached to him. He’s much more likable in terms of his demeanor and much more relatable in terms of his gaffes. Some of Bernie’s 2016 momentum was fueled by a simple distaste for Hillary appearing to inevitably ascend to the nomination without any real debate.
Warren may lay low for today, or she may endorse at her press conference in the afternoon. Either way, everyone is looking at the battle in Michigan on Tuesday as the decider since Bernie upset Hillary there in 2016. If he can’t take at least the states he won in 2016, with Michigan being a key prize, then his path to a majority or plurality of delegates looks grim at this point.
It’s amazing what a few days can do to change a primary race.
No endorsement today. Here is the video of Warren speaking to reporters and confirming the end of her 2020 campaign:
She’s wise not to jump too fast into the endorsement fray. She may be more inclined to endorse Sanders over Biden, at least to avoid looking hypocritical in the face of her campaign rhetoric, but that move also has pitfalls. Better to just step back, let the race proceed and re-enter the fray at a better time when the dust settles.