The Sandernista’s are apoplectic about Elizabeth Warren staying in the race. The way they see it, Warren is the chief obstacle to Bernie’s revolution and a united progressive front. If she drops out, they reason, Bernie will gain a head of steam that could take him to the nomination.
They’ve got it wrong, though. Bernie is the one who should have dropped out in favor of Warren before the voting even began. Warren doesn’t have nearly as low a ceiling as Sanders. She could have expanded her coalition and cut into support from moderate voters. If Sanders weren’t in the race, there’s a good chance the primary would come down to Biden versus Warren and the Senator from Massachusetts would be in a far better position to secure the nomination than the Senator from Vermont.
Sanders has failed to expand his coalition since 2016 and election returns indicate that it may even have shrunk. His rhetoric is divisive, not inviting. He spends as much time running against “the establishment” as he does promoting his progressive agenda. His most ardent supporters share more similarities with crowds at Trump rallies than they do with mainstream voters. They attack, belittle and harass the people they consider enemies. At a Sanders’ rally last week, they booed the press. For people who are as concerned about Trump’s temperament and authoritarian instincts as they are about his conservative policies, Sanders and his minion don’t offer much comfort.
Sanders and his allies are also mistaken about picking up all of Warren’s support. People support Warren for far more reasons than they do Sanders. There are people who aren’t nearly as far to the left as Sanders who believe it’s time for a woman president. With the choice of two men, they’re more ideologically in tune with Biden than Sanders. Other people may have been drawn to her for her style, her detailed plans and her upbeat demeanor. They’re not going support a guy who dismisses her plans with a metaphorical wave of his hand.
Warren also has, or had, a higher ceiling than Bernie. Sanders’ support was limited to the left-wing of the party, most of whom are very young and the least reliable voters. Warren had support from young people, college educated voters and women of all ages. Had Bernie dropped out and endorsed Warren, almost all of his support would have gone to Warren, giving her the base to compete with Biden or any other more moderate candidate. He could have been a kingmaker who watched his revolution flourish under the leadership of an ally. Instead, he’ll likely struggle through the primaries before finally losing to Biden late this spring.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >