The dig on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) from the media and even many progressive Democratic insiders is that she is not electable. Go with a man. Go with someone who doesn’t make mistakes, such as the DNA snafu.
Oddly, some of those same voices haven’t said that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — born three months before Pearl Harbor — isn’t electable because he is too old. While the speculation is that President Trump has some secret sauce for poisoning a Warren candidacy, it seems that the self-described socialist Sanders would have a much more difficult time against Trump and the GOP, who are already revving up the “Socialist!” machine.
It turns out that voters and donors (in this case, they’re largely the same) don’t pay attention to conventional wisdom. The Post reports that Warren “raised $19.1 million in the past three months, the vast majority from first-time donors, drawing a significant haul despite putting herself at a disadvantage by pledging not to court wealthy donors.” Even more impressive, her campaign reported that it has $19.7 million cash on hand. “Warren outraised both Sanders and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) in the second quarter,” according to The Post.
The senator has also been rising in the polls, matching and, in some cases, surpassing Sanders. For Warren, voter support does go hand-in-hand with donations since she is relying on small donations. (Her campaign reports that the average donation is $28.) It seems that forgetting about fundraisers for wealthy donors leaves her time to campaign, connect with donors (she’s surpassed 35,000 selfies by now) and keep the assembly line of policy plans humming.
Whatever you think of Warren’s policies (and I disagree with many and find her embrace of Medicare-for-all a terrible unforced error), she has simply run a better campaign than anyone else. It’s more substantive, and she is more energetic and, yes, joyous. She practically bounces with enthusiasm when explaining her policy ideas. If you’re a very progressive voter, she is younger, more energetic and seems more empathetic than Sanders, who has perfected the angry-man-get-off-my-lawn tenor.
Warren does a few other things that some other candidates could learn from. First, she has rarely attacked her Democratic opponents, at least by name. Democrats mean it when they say they don’t want candidates tearing into each other. Second, she weaves her personal story into her message — which both validates her proposals and defines her as an Okie who had to scramble and work for everything she got, not the Harvard law professor. Third, she talks about her faith in a sincere way, which helps her outreach in black churches among other venues. That gives people who don’t agree with her at least a sense of her values. Finally, her policy output tells voters she takes her job very seriously, that she’s smart, that she respects their intelligence (i.e., not trying to snow them with platitudes), and that she is able to explain her ideas in simply, catchy ways. She is a very strong candidate in the Democratic primary.
Warren has a fight on her hands, as do all the top-tier candidates. She risks splitting the liberal vote with Sanders and Harris, leaving the moderate lane entirely to former vice president Joe Biden. And she has yet to really be pressed to do the math on her proposals (considering the super-rich are very good at stashing their money beyond the grasp of the Internal Revenue Service). That said, after being written off by most of the media six months ago, Warren has as good a chance as anyone to earn the nomination.