Back in October, discouraged by Warren’s extremely misguided “DNA test” ploy, I wrote that her candidacy was basically over—she could stretch it out as long as she wanted, but playing into Republican hands the way she did (and infuriating the Cherokee Nation in the process) proved that she had sub-par instincts and would likely continue to make unforced errors. If she somehow made it out of the primary, I wrote, she’d be no match for Trump, and she’d probably never get that far since this self-own would define her in many voters’ minds. When she released a very awkward Instagram Live video with her husband on New Year’s Eve, it just confirmed what I already suspected about her political chops. As one YouTube commenter put it, “she’s an obvious graduate of the Hillary Clinton School of Relating to Everyday People?.”
But almost four months have passed, and in that time, Warren has put the gimmicks aside. To date, she has run the most substantive, policy-oriented campaign of any Democratic primary hopeful, and with each pronouncement, she rivals Bernie Sanders with her commitment to reform. Paste’s Jake Weindling wrote what I consider the definitive piece about the difference between liberals and progressives, and hence between Sanders and Warren, and Warren’s loyalty to our capitalist system still limits her imagination and makes her my second-favorite candidate, but with each passing day she distances herself from everyone else.
This WaPo story goes into the details of her policy-oriented campaign to date, and a review of her Twitter account gives a clear picture as well, including this stand-up-and-applaud tweet from Monday:
And in general, she's not suppressing her rhetoric, she's not striving for “moderation,” and she's not doing the dumb Beto thing of stringing together a series of platitudes and pretending it means something. For instance, look what she had to say about Kirstjen Nielsen upon her resignation:
There’s a lot to like here.
The problem is, she’s not catching on. Not nationally, and not, most worryingly, in her home state. In an Emerson poll of likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters that came out Sunday, Warren secured just 14 percent support from her own constituents. That’s barely ahead of Pete Buttigieg, a still relatively unknown mayor from Indiana, and far behind Bernie Sanders (26 percent) and Joe Biden (23 percent).
It’s the kind of result that wouldn’t be too disastrous if it came from any state except Massachusetts—Warren has time to increase her profile across the country. But the thing is, it was Massachusetts. Warren is their senator. The people polled are Democrats, which means they should be on her side.
And she still couldn’t win. That’s more than a problem—that’s something close to a nightmare result, and it jives with what we know about her lackluster fundraising to date. To give you a comparison (admittedly not a direct one), Bernie Sanders won the 2016 Democratic primary in Vermont with 85% of the vote against Hillary Clinton. If they polled the state today, I’d be shocked if his support was lower than 70%, and that’s being generous to the other candidates.
Warren, meanwhile, only has the support of 14%. That’s stunning, and the analysis isn’t complicated: If she can’t win her home state, she has no chance in the primary. And if she can’t even come close to winning her home state, well…all the policies in the world won’t save her drowning candidacy.