Elizabeth Warren, the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, has ended her presidential campaign after the results of Super Tuesday made it all too apparent that she has no chance of winning the 2020 Democratic nomination.
The former Harvard law professor and consumer rights campaigner is a living legend in progressive politics and a regular speaker at Netroots Nation.
She first entered the national spotlight in the 1990s as an expert on bankruptcy law, and then rocketed to celebrity during the 2008 financial crash, during which she ferociously interrogated the inept architects of the disaster. She fought a long and at times vicious battle within the Obama administration to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was eventually formed in 2010.
Warren entered the U.S. Senate in 2012 and was such an effective progressive leader that by 2015 a movement had formed to encourage her to run as a progressive challenger to Hillary Clinton in the following year’s Democratic presidential primary. Warren declined, which ultimately allowed Bernie Sanders to step into the progressive lane and ascend to national fame.
Warren was the first major 2020 Democratic candidate to declare her run (which she did on the last day of 2018). She immediately encountered furious criticism from Donald Trump, who derided her as “Pocahontas”.
Warren managed to weather the storm of racist and sexist hatred being spewed by the Republicans, and by the autumn she had arguably become the Democratic frontrunner, as both the Biden and Sanders struggled to find their footing.
Warren’s success came from a slow-and-steady approach to campaigning that built up a solid ground game in crucial early states, and her ability to remain unruffled by the ups and downs of the primary process.
Progressives cheered her on in the televised debates, where she demolished neoliberal candidates who belittled progressive ideals, while skillfully avoiding the ire of the party’s powerful establishment. She also impressed many college educated voters by pumping out comprehensive policy packages, to the extent that her campaign slogan became “I have a plan for that!”
However, in the months running up to the start of voting, Warren’s key areas of support were gradually pulled from under her in multiple directions.
Bernie Sanders’ campaign picked up enormous steam in the early days of this year (bizarrely, Sanders’ surge came in the wake of a heart attack, the kind of event that usually ends a presidential run), sapping away Warren’s most progressive supporters. Meanwhile, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg played on his youth and intellectual chops to chip away at her base of educated white suburban voters.
Warren’s response was to pivot away from her staunch defense of progressive policies and try to play the role of a unifier. Unfortunately, this tack did not work, and she continued to slide in public opinion research surveys.
Despite her campaign’s strong presence in early-voting states, Warren did not secure the finish she had worked so hard for. A particularly galling result came in New Hampshire, where Warren came a distant fourth despite her advantage of being from a neighboring state. Super Tuesday sealed her fate; voters gave her less than thirty of the more than 1,300 delegates up for grabs.
Warren’s exit from the race comes during a massive narrowing of the Democratic field. In the past few days Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Mayor Michael Bloomberg all dropped out of the race to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden in what has been widely seen as a party establishment effort to deny the nomination to Bernie Sanders – a self-declared democratic socialist who says a political revolution is needed to restore the United States of America.
Both Senators Warren and Sanders have been encouraged by progressive groups for months to unite as one ticket to unify the the party’s progressive wing, but this pressure ramped up to extreme levels in recent months as it became increasingly clear that Sanders’ campaign had the best chance of winning.
After neoliberals united behind Biden in the days immediately preceding and succeeding Super Tuesday, the pressure on Warren’s campaign increased.
Warren has now pulled the plug after concluding there was no path to the nomination. What comes next for Warren is unclear, but she still wields great influence in the Democratic Party. Her endorsement, whether it goes to Biden or Sanders, will be a key moment in the race, if and when she chooses to give it.
Beyond endorsing one of the remaining candidates, Warren has a promising future to look forward to, even if she won’t become the party’s nominee.
Both the frontrunners are painfully aware that as elderly white men, they are not very representative of the country, or the Democratic base.
Both campaigns have contemplated balancing the ticket with a female vice presidential nominee. The Biden campaign has already clumsily approached several successful female leaders with trial balloons, while the Sanders campaign was reportedly researching whether Warren could serve as Vice President and Treasury Secretary simultaneously as far back as mid-January.
Whichever candidate Warren supports, she will no doubt be an invaluable asset to them – both in the primary and (more importantly) as a fearless progressive warrior in the battle to throw Donald Trump out of the White House.