- Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is dropping out of the 2020 Democratic primary, according to The New York Times, after she failed to place higher than third in any race so far.
- Warren surged in national polls last summer and fall, racking up support with a policy-focused campaign that appealed to well-educated white progressives.
- But she ultimately failed to break through as a top candidate for Democratic voters, who have largely favored Sen. Bernie Sanders or former Vice President Joe Biden.
- With Warren out of the race, the contest has narrowed to Biden and Sanders, pitting the insurgent, populist left against the establishment-backed center of the party.
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is planning to drop out of the 2020 Democratic primary, according to The New York Times.
Warren’s decision comes after she failed to place higher than third in any primary or caucus so far in the race. In a particularly devastating blow, she came in third in her home state of Massachusetts on Super Tuesday, behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The Massachusetts senator’s campaign aides hinted at her upcoming dropout on Wednesday, with one aide telling multiple media outlets that she was “assessing the path forward.”
Warren’s campaign manager, Roger Lau, also put out a statement acknowledging that the campaign “fell well short of our viability goals and projections” and was “disappointed” in the results from Super Tuesday.
“All of us have worked for Elizabeth long enough to know that she isn’t a lifetime politician and doesn’t think like one,” Lau said. “She’s going to take time right now to think through the right way to continue this fight.”
Sticking to one of her signature slogans — “nevertheless, she persisted” — Warren tried to position herself as a “unity candidate,” with the goal of picking up enough delegates on Super Tuesday to make it to the Democratic National Convention.
But Warren’s dismal performance on Tuesday left her lagging far behind the competition in delegates and undermined her campaign’s strategy for staying in the race.
Warren, 70, rose in national polls over the summer and fall, building her support with a policy-focused campaign that appealed to well-educated white progressives. She was viewed for several months as a frontrunner in the race.
Most of Warren’s supporters — about 68% — said their second choice candidate was Sanders, according to Insider polling, so the Vermont democratic socialist is hoping for a boost as Warren leaves the race. But many of Warren’s fans also like Biden and could shift their support to his camp.
In November, The New York Times and Siena College released a set of polls showing Warren would lose to Trump by three and six points among registered voters in three key battleground states — Michigan, North Carolina, and Florida — and would tie with the president in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Both Biden and Sanders fared better than Warren in the same general election matchups.
Warren ultimately failed to emerge as the top candidate in any one lane. Sanders dominated progressive voters, former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar came out ahead among voters seeking unity, and Klobuchar took an edge among voters looking for a female candidate.
‘I’ve got a plan for that’
Warren ran on a long list of far-reaching, comprehensive policy proposals, including universal day care, debt-free college and free public college.
While Sanders made his case for a “political revolution,” Warren, who’s called herself “a capitalist to my bones,” pushed for structural change.
She argued that, unlike Sanders, she’s relatively new to Washington and politics, having run for office for the first time in 2012. At the same time, she also made the case that she knows how to get things done in DC.
Warren emphasized her anti-corruption proposals, and would have sought lobbying bans for top government officials, new executive branch conflict-of-interest laws, and a ban on stock trading for members of Congress and other top officials, among other ethics reforms.
But Warren lost some momentum amid questions about her stance on Medicare for All, a key policy that has significant support among progressive voters, which she has hesitantly endorsed.
Sanders and Biden jockey for Warren’s backing amid a brutal primary season
Warren and Sanders are longtime friends who have championed the progressive agenda. They made an unofficial pact not to go to war with one another during the primary contest, but that deal blew up amid reports in January that Sanders told Warren during a private meeting shortly before she launched her campaign that he didn’t think a woman couldn’t win the presidency
Warren’s campaign initially declined to comment on the reports, but the Massachusetts senator later confirmed them, adding that she had “no interest in discussing this private meeting any further because Bernie and I have far more in common than our differences in punditry.”
Still, the development sent shockwaves through the political and media spheres and the two senators clashed during a primary debate in Iowa the next day.
But the two campaigns appear to be reconciling. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday evening that top allies and surrogates linked to both campaigns were discussing how to unite their camps and push a common liberal, progressive agenda after Warren’s disappointing showing on Super Tuesday.
According to the Post, lawmakers who support Sanders’ campaign began reaching out on Wednesday to people in Warren’s camp to gauge her willingness to endorse the Vermont senator. They also reportedly began appealing to Warren’s supporters to throw their support behind Sanders as he gets ready to duke it out with Biden in a series of critical upcoming primaries.
Biden’s camp, meanwhile, has also been in talks with Warren’s associates about joining forces if she drops out, the Post reported.
According to Insider’s polling, 70.5% of Warren’s supporters would be satisified if Sanders were the Democratic nominee, and 55.6% would be satisifed with Biden. Conversely, just 15.6% of her supporters would be dissatisfied if Sanders were the nominee, while nearly twice that numbers, 27.4% would be dissatisfied if it were Biden.
Jake Lahut contributed to this report.