The power of the Democratic Party’s centrist consolidation was on full display last night. Joe Biden, whose candidacy was seemingly left for dead following abysmal showings in the early states, dominated Super Tuesday, winning nine of 14 contests and claiming monumental victories in Texas, Minnesota and Massachusettes, outcomes that seemed unthinkable just days ago.
Biden’s resurgence comes after two other moderate Democrats in the race, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, dropped out and endorsed him, even flying down to Texas to speak at his pre-Super Tuesday rally.
Regardless of your thoughts on these candidates, you have to respect their strategy. Buttigieg and Klobuchar saw the writing on the wall, not only for their campaigns, but for the establishment cause and its fight against the progressive wing of the party. Bernie Sanders was in the driver’s seat for the nomination, and with the centrist vote split, there seemed to be little way to stop him. With this in mind (and likely with Biden’s promise of a position in his potential administration), Buttigieg and Klobuchar, at the drop of a hat, exited the race in the eleventh hour, fundamentally altering Super Tuesday and the future of the race.
Before this centrist coalescence, the question wasn’t if Bernie would win Texas, it was by how much. In Minnesota, the race was between Sanders and Klobuchar; Biden didn’t even appear to be viable. But when the dust settled on a tumultuous Super Tuesday, Biden stood atop both states, and he now seems poised to ride this momentum all the way to the Democratic nomination.
The success of this strategy begs the question: why won’t Elizabeth Warren drop out and do the same for the progressive cause?
There are a lot of things I liked about Warren. She’s by far the most left-leaning candidate in the field not named Bernie Sanders, and her evisceration of Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage was a sight to behold, all but destroying any chance the racist billionaire had of buying, sorry, winning the election (quick shoutout to Bloomberg, who dropped out today after spending over half a billion dollars to win *checks notes* American Somoa).
What frustrates me about Warren is that she can’t do what Buttigieg and Klobuchar did: drop out for the greater good of their respective cause. It doesn’t take a mathematician to show Warren has no chance of winning the nomination. She has yet to win a single state (or finish above third place, for that matter), and she currently sits at a paltry 53 delegates (you need 1,991 to win).
If Warren truly cared about advancing the progressive movement, she would’ve responded to this centrist consolidation by dropping out and endorsing Sanders before Super Tuesday. Bernie is the only other candidate fighting for Medicare For All, universal college and student loan forgiveness, three policies Warren has also centered her campaign upon. The Democratic establishment rallying behind Biden, who has referred to these policies as “pie in the sky” proposals, represents an obvious threat to the progressive cause. But Warren inexplicably remains in the race, and the results of this last night were disastrous.
In state after state, Warren split the progressive vote, all while failing to win a single contest or improve on her already infinitesimal chance of winning the nomination. Of course, not every Warren voter would’ve gone to Bernie had she dropped out, but a recent Morning Consult poll (taken before Buttigieg and Klobuchar dropped out) showed 40% of her supporters had Sanders as their second choice. This number would’ve only increased in a smaller field and with an endorsement, and it could have made all the difference in Minnesota, Maine, Massachusetts and Texas, where Bernie lost by single digits and Warren finished in the mid-teens to low 20s. If Warren had rallied behind Bernie like Buttigieg and Klobuchar rallied behind Biden, we’d be looking at a much different narrative coming out of Super Tuesday and a much brighter future for the progressive movement.
However, Warren’s allegiance to this movement doesn’t seem to be as strong as she’s led many to believe. In January, she shocked many by attacking her one progressive ally, accusing Sanders’ of being a secret sexist who, in 2016, said a woman couldn’t beat Trump. Believe it or not, Warren’s attempt to label the most popular senator in the country, who’s spent his entire career fighting for women’s rights, a sexist, didn’t land, and the miscalculation marked the beginning of her freefall in the polls.
Warren has also long boasted that her campaign won’t take a dime from lobbyists and rejects SuperPacs (a fact which remains on her website), yet the Persist Pac, which has yet to disclose its donors, spent $14 million on pro-Warren ads in South Carolina and Super Tuesday states. To contrast, the one SuperPac supporting Bernie comes from the United Nurses Union, which endorsed him in large part due to his Medicare For All plan (disappointing, I know; Bernie sold out to Big Nurse).
And in last month’s Las Vegas debate, Warren gave the middle finger to democracy when she argued the candidate with a plurality of delegates entering the Democratic convention shouldn’t necessarily be the nominee, arguing instead for superdelegates (you know, the party elites who are pledged to no one and can override thousands of votes) to take influence in the second round. Her campaign has only doubled down on this stance, admitting that their final play is to somehow secure the nomination in Milwaukee through these delegates.
Nothing screams progressive like taking tens of millions of dollars in SuperPac money and banking your campaign on a process that ignores the will of the people.
While Warren’s recent actions are disappointing, they’re unfortunately unsurprising. Without real grassroots support, Warren needed millions in SuperPac ads to even give her a fighting chance on Super Tuesday (it resulted in nothing). And with no chance of winning even a single state, Warren’s best shot at the nomination was through an undemocratic takeover via superdelegates.
After her awful Super Tuesday showing, however (she finished third in her own state of Massachusetts), not even this option is viable anymore.
Maybe Warren legitimately believed she could turn things around last night. But after such damning results, the only logical play as a progressive would be to drop out and endorse the one candidate left fighting for these values. But she isn’t doing that, of course.
“There are six more primaries just one week away, and we need your help to keep up the momentum,” Warren’s campaign said in a statement last night, seemingly unaware of what the word momentum means.
All Warren’s continued presence in the race does is undermine Bernie and the progressive movement, all while helping Biden, a centrist Democrat with lots of baggage, secure the nomination (remind you of anyone?). With Bloomberg dropping out and endorsing Biden as well, she hurts progressivism even more by staying in now.
As someone who admired Warren and what she stood for so much, it truly pains me to watch this unfold. We likely won’t know about this until months from now, but at this point, I believe Warren may have made a deal with Biden to stay in the race and hurt Sanders. It would explain why she’s been on the offensive against him for the past month. It’s the only explanation as to why she would remain in a race she can’t win, and it’s the only meaningful purpose she serves in the race now.
A Biden nomination is 2016 all over again. Like Clinton, he has a horrible track record that Trump can exploit. The Iraq War, the Crime Bill, cuts to Social Security and Medicare, the list goes on. And at least Clinton could form coherent sentences.
I hope it was worth it, Warren. You abandoned progressivism and your one ally, and you currently have nothing to show for it. Every day you stay in the race, the establishment, corporate interests you’ve rightfully railed against get stronger, and the likelihood we see the policies you allegedly champion dwindles. But maybe progressivism didn’t mean that much to you in the first place. And when Trump comfortably wins re-election in 2020, you unfortunately may end up being one of the biggest reasons why.