Here at Palmer Report we spend much of our time covering Donald Trump’s antics, scandals, and crimes. But there’s also a crucial 2020 Democratic primary race going on, and we’re duty bound to cover it as well. We try to do it fairly – but “fair” doesn’t mean pretending that the Democratic candidates are all equally worthy, or that they’re all doing equally well. To that end, Elizabeth Warren just scored big.
Back in the 2016 Democratic primary race, the far-left Working Families Party endorsed Bernie Sanders. This didn’t come as a surprise, of course. But today, that same Working Families Party has decided to endorse Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 Democratic primary race. This has sent off shockwaves, because a lot of folks were expecting the group to endorse Sanders again.
Actually, this shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. If you paid close attention to the 2016 presidential race from its earliest days, you know that Elizabeth Warren was widely expected to run, and she had a lot of built-in support. MoveOn even went so far as to endorse Warren at a time when she wasn’t even running, in an effort to get her to run. When it became clear that she wasn’t going to run, Bernie Sanders entered the race and essentially inherited Warren’s support, because he was the only far-left candidate in the race.
But most politically knowledgeable observers have always seen Elizabeth Warren as a smarter and savvier version of Bernie Sanders. Her plans are sophisticated enough to work; his plans are simplistic and would never go anywhere. She knows how to work with people to get legislation passed; he doesn’t. She can point out what’s wrong, while actually shifting things to the left; all he can do is point out what’s wrong. The bottom line is that Working Families Party almost surely would have endorsed Warren over Sanders last time around, if Warren had been running.
This endorsement is big for Elizabeth Warren because she and Bernie are essentially tied for second place in the current average of polls. She’s been slowly but steadily taking support away from him, and she was already on track to pull out ahead of him in the polls eventually. But today’s news should help speed up that process, as some progressive voters who are wavering between Warren and Sanders end up using this kind of endorsement as a tiebreaker. And the real story here is the larger field.
If today’s endorsement had gone to Bernie, it probably wouldn’t have helped him; his 2020 support topped out a long time ago, and he’s not going to be the nominee. Because it went to Warren, and this should shift even more of Bernie’s remaining support toward Warren, it could help give legs to Warren’s quest to catch up to Joe Biden in the polls.
Not only is this good news for Elizabeth Warren and potentially bad news for Biden, it’s also potentially bad news for the candidates with low poll numbers who are still trying to get things going. If Warren definitively pulls past Sanders and pulls close to Biden, the primary could – fair or not – increasingly be viewed as a two person race.
All that said, this is September of 2019, and the first votes won’t even be cast until February of 2020. Plenty of things can, and will, happen between now and then. Various candidates will have good and bad days. But there’s no mistaking that this is a good day for Elizabeth Warren. We’ll have to see where her poll numbers are two weeks from now to grasp how big or small this good news is for her.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report