Senator Elizabeth Warren stopped her presidential campaign on Thursday. With that, the Democratic primaries in the United States are narrowed to a race between the two elderly white men Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden (plus, far beyond, one hopeless woman, Tulsi Gabbard). Warren did not yet give a voting recommendation.
Warren wants to “take a deep breath and think carefully” before issuing voting advice, she said Thursday night during a short emotional press conference in front of her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
When three moderate candidates left the race earlier this week, they gave a big boost to the remaining moderate candidate, former vice president Joe Biden. Many doubting voters gave Biden their vote at the last minute on Super Tuesday. A so-called endorsement of Warren to its progressive competitor Bernie Sanders would also consolidate the left-wing votes, around the remaining left-wing candidate.
But it is not certain that she will do that. In the 2016 presidential race, Warren supported Hillary Clinton. In recent months, Warren has been aggressively attacked by Sanders supporters for being a conservative wolf in progressive sheep’s clothing.
Warren (70) was the leader in the polls last fall. Her plans, from a 2 percent wealth tax for the rich to canceling study debts, from accessible childcare to curbing Wall Street, appealed to the widely felt need to distribute the lusts and burdens of the American system more fairly.
But then she fell far back. Some of her detailed plans turned out to be too nuanced. In particular, her gradual introduction of a national health insurance fund (Medicare for all) was exactly wrong for everyone. Progressives found her too moderate and switched to Sanders, and moderates were too progressive and switched to Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.
“When I rushed into the race, I thought there was room for a different direction between the moderate lane and the progressive lane,” Warren said Thursday. “But I was mistaken. There are only two lanes. ”
Moreover, her being a woman also seemed to be bothering her. In polling her chances in a race against Trump, she scored a few percent worse than other candidates. That fueled memories of 2016, when Hillary Clinton lost to Trump. The fear that she would not be “eligible” enough turned into a negative spiral, as fewer and fewer people chose her.
Warren did not make a crucial point of being a woman, but always made a symbolic gesture during her campaign meetings: the “pinky promises” to the girls in the audience.
“I’m throwing in the presidency because that’s what girls do,” she said. And then they put together the little fingers to reinforce that vow. “Those girls now have to wait another four years,” Warren said Thursday.
Although Warren single-handedly blew up the candidacy of billionaire Mike Bloomberg during a debate last month, Warren did not make an electoral impression in the primaries. Even in her home state of Massachusetts, she was only third.
Supporters of Sanders blame her for not having left the race before, because she would have thwarted Sanders. But her percentages are simply not high enough for that. Any transferers would have made Sanders’ losses on Super Tuesday a little more bearable (and therefore brought him more delegates), but it would have been too few to change the result structurally.