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It’s still very early days in the Democratic primary season, with only a handful of delegates selected, but there’s already a narrative emerging in mainstream coverage. Pete and Bernie are buoyed by their good results in Iowa and duelling it out in New Hampshire. Joe took a gut punch but is trying to fight back and avoid another humiliating fourth-place finish. And if nobody runs away in New Hampshire, that opens up more of an opportunity for Mike and his unlimited budget.
But while the punditry is currently focusing on who will win in the next contest in a small mostly-white state … they’re missing the real story.
George Stephanopoulos: No one has ever gotten the nomination if they don’t crack the top two in Iowa or New Hampshire.
Elizabeth Warren: Look, the way I see this is it’s going to be a long campaign … we’ve built a campaign to go the distance.
— ABC’s This Week February 9, 2020
Elizabeth’s Warren plan for how to win the nomination is to position herself as the candidate who can appeal to the different factions within a divided party. And her strategy’s working:
- Iowa’s results (Biden’s fourth-place finish, Sanders down almost 50% from his 2016 numbers), combined with the Sanders’ campaigns ongoing attacks on other candidates and supporters, mean that it’s unlikely that anybody will get a majority of pledged delegates — so we’re on a path to a contested convention
- Warren is the only candidate in the race who backs key progressive policies but hasn’t declared all-out war on the party apparatus and the moderates and centrists — and her campaign and supporters have generally stayed away from nasty attacks on other candidates or their supporters
- So at the convention, delegates may well wind up having to choose between alienating moderates by picking Sanders, alienating progressives by picking Bloomberg or another moderate … or choosing Warren.
Of course, it’s far from a sure thing. The Sanders campaign has a lot of great organizers (and youth support is also overlooked by pundits), so it’s certainly possible that their momentum will continue to build enough to wrap things up before the convention. The impact of Bloomberg’s unprecedented spending is very hard to predict. And the media’s bias against women candidates, and the big advantage so many of the guys have in fundraising, are certainly additional challenges for Warren.
Nevertheless, she’s persisting. And she’s also got a lot of advantages that aren’t getting as much attention as they should:
- As other candidates drop out, Warren’s likely to continue to attract more top-tier staffers (like Maya Rupert and Natalie Montelongo, who recently joined from the Castro campaigh) and volunteers.
- The intersectional grassroots organizing her campaign is doing with groups like Black Womxn For and AAPIs for Warren – and her strong support in the disability community – are big strengths going forward.
- Her supporters may not be as raucus as Bernie’s, but we’re just as motivated and passionate. It’s true online as well; on Twitter and Facebook, Warren supporters (and now the Castro supporters joining up) are working together effectively in ways that leverage their strengths and networks.
So it’ll be interesting to see how things play out. We’ll start to know a lot more after Super Tuesday but the convention’s a loooong way away. Still, Warren’s plan is clear … and things certainly seem to be going in the direction she’s hoping for.
Everyone thinks they know what fights are unwinnable, until we get in the fight, persist—and win. That’s what I’m going to do.
Image credit: From ABC’s This Week, via Elizabeth Warren on Twitter.
Also published on Medium.