New Hampshire might have been another gut punch for Joe Biden, but it turned into all but a knockout blow for Elizabeth Warren. After starting a feud with Bernie Sanders over his alleged sexist remarks, the fight over their home turf should have been their showdown. Instead Warren barely showed up, finishing a distant fourth and failing to score even a single delegate out of the state next door to hers.
Warren told supporters that she planned to fight on in Nevada, where she has tried to build her contacts with unions as a firewall. No one can unify the two wings of the party like she can, Warren declared at the end of the night, but she didn’t show any hint of that kind of appeal last night:
Warren has recently begun pitching herself as the candidate who can best unify the Democratic Party’s often-warring establishment and left-wing factions and said the party needs “a nominee that the broadest coalition of our party feels they can get behind” in order to generate the turnout needed to defeat Trump, as chants of “Warren” broke out in the audience.
Warren campaign manager Roger Lau argued in the memo released earlier Tuesday that “Warren is the candidate with the highest potential ceiling of support,” and she echoed that message Tuesday night, even in the wake of the early results.
“Our campaign is best positioned to beat Donald Trump in November, because we can unite our party,” she said. …
Warren alluded to the recent clash between Biden and Buttigieg, which featured a slashing online attack ad from the former vice president’s campaign belittling the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor’s record of accomplishments. She also referenced “supporters of some candidates shouting curses about other Democratic candidates.”
“These harsh tactics might work if you’re willing to burn down the rest of the party in order to be the last man standing,” Warren said. “They might work if you don’t worry about leaving our party and our politics worse off than how you found it. They might work if you think only you have all the answers and only you are the solution to all our problems.”
Perhaps, but both of them are scoring more votes in the two states than Warren, however, which means that many more voters are “uniting” elsewhere. Furthermore, the unity candidate doesn’t appear to be Warren but Amy Klobuchar, who scored more twice as many votes as Warren did last night despite Warren’s home-turf advantage. Besides, it’s a little rich to pose as the “unity candidate” just a few weeks after accusing the now-frontrunner of being a misogynist. Warren didn’t even end up as the top female candidate after making sexism her big issue in Iowa.
So what now? Warren’s heading for Nevada as something of a firewall, thanks to her work with unions there. However, the Daily Beast’s Scott Bixby sounds skeptical about her chances to break back into the top tier. Bixby’s not the only one who’s skeptical, either:
Following her loss on Tuesday evening in what was essentially a home game for the Massachusetts senator, and as she continues to trail the frontrunners in South Carolina polling, plugged-in primary watchers told The Daily Beast that Warren has one last card to play: the caucus state of Nevada.
“If she can even make it here, that is,” a Nevada-based official for a rival campaign said.
The Warren campaign, which has one of the largest payrolls of any candidate seeking the Democratic nomination, has had an outsized presence in Nevada almost from the outset. The senator has assembled a small army of more than 50 campaign staffers on the ground in Nevada, and has dispatched top-flight surrogates like former rival Julián Castro to the state to underscore her closing “unity candidate” message. …
Nevada, the most diverse of the early voting states and a locus for organized labor on the Democratic primary calendar, would normally be a logical target for Warren, whose early investments in on-ground organizing would normally be paying dividends by now. But many voters, West said, remain undecided only days before the state’s early voting period begins on Saturday—and two back-to-back poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire have some supporters on the ground worried that she won’t be able to compete in the state.
“She keeps saying she’s a fighter, but you have to actually win a fight sometime if you want people to take you seriously here,” an official with one of the state’s influential labor unions told The Daily Beast. The official is personally backing Warren, but their union has not yet made an endorsement ahead of next weekend’s caucuses. “You can’t unify the party from the back row.”
Even before her Iowa and New Hampshire debacles, Warren had been dropping in Nevada polls since November. Her RCP average dropped her to a distant third before last night, and Klobuchar and Buttigieg will undoubtedly pick up more support after their strong showings. At least Joe Biden still has South Carolina as a potential firewall, but Warren’s should have been New Hampshire. If Warren couldn’t do better than fourth place so close to home, she won’t last much longer. Warren better have a plan for her post-primary career.