Jacobin - February 12, 2020
When Trump won the 2016 general election, my wife was eight months pregnant. And while I am no great fan of Hillary Clinton, on the morning of November 8, just weeks before my daughter was born, I foolishly assumed that she would be raised in a world with a female president. Instead, she’s lived through nothing but the Trump administration.
Not surprisingly, I’m desperate to get someone else in the White House and begin constructing a better America. I am a fan of Elizabeth Warren and her attempt to return to New Deal liberalism after decades of deregulation and deunionization. Bernie Sanders is also a fan and, in fact, he would not have run for president in 2016 if she had entered the race.
Despite intra-left fights this campaign season, I like Elizabeth Warren. I want my daughter to see a female president in her lifetime. But after her performance in New Hampshire yesterday, it is time for progressives still supporting her to consolidate around Bernie Sanders.
This may be hard for some people to hear, but it is important. Bernie Sanders is the frontrunner, and Warren is pulling votes from him. If she stays in much longer, she risks handing the nomination to Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg.
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren do not have the same politics (I am much more inclined toward his democratic socialism than her liberal capitalism), but relative to the rest of the field, they are in a category of their own.
But as a practical matter, only one candidate will get the Democratic nomination. Last summer, Sanders and Warren voters did not rank the other candidate as their second choice. In that phase of the campaign, their joint presence in the race was a boon to the Left. They battled over whose policy plan was more radical, and if either had departed prematurely from the race, many of their supporters may have fallen to a much worse candidate.
But this phase is different. Recent polling shows Warren voters ranking Bernie as their second choice and vice versa. Bernie won the popular vote in Iowa, though came in second in the delegate count. Warren came in third. Bernie and Warren combined came in first in the delegate count — but this is precisely the issue: there is no “combined.” At the moment, they are pulling votes from each other. In a small state like Iowa, the actual count matters little. But the stakes are about to increase.
Bernie won unequivocally in New Hampshire yesterday, and polling in Nevada shows him surging slightly ahead of Biden and well ahead of Warren. Biden is still ahead in South Carolina polls, but here again, Bernie is surging; Biden is dipping. If after the first four states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina — Warren is still in third place or worse, the move is clear: she should drop out of the race, and enthusiastically support Bernie Sanders before Super Tuesday.
Some on the Left have discussed the prospect of a brokered convention, in which Sanders and Warren fuse their delegates against a centrist candidate. This scenario made sense for the Left in a situation where Biden has piled up a plurality, say 40 percent of the delegates, but Bernie and Liz pull a combined 50 or 60 percent. In short, a brokered convention would be the best outcome for the Left given a centrist frontrunner.
But that is not the situation in February 2020. We now have a left frontrunner. Not that we should put too much stock in FiveThirtyEight, but their models last week had Sanders winning all 49 remaining state competitions. He has surged in national polls, specifically among voters of color, and in key state races as well.
At this point, Warren is not fighting Biden or Buttigieg — she is fighting Bernie Sanders. Enough is enough, it’s time for the Left to consolidate around the front runner.