The speakers in these stories are always enthusiastic about Warren, delighted by her intellect, inspired by her policy agenda, and happy about the prospect of a woman president. But they seem confident that they’re alone, or at least in the minority, in liking these things. The speakers are progressive, but think that nobody else is; they want a woman president, but they feel that the rest of the electorate is too sexist to vote for one. They want to vote for Warren in the primary, but feel that they shouldn’t, or can’t afford to. Instead, they should capitulate to what they imagine are other voters’ bad impulses, so that when the general election rolls around, the Democrats will have a candidate who they think is more likely to beat Trump—a centrist, that is, and a man.
The tendency found in these reported stories is at least somewhat backed up by polling. Data for Progress, a left-leaning think tank, found that Warren had a significant advantage in its “magic wand” poll, which asks voters which candidate they would choose to make president if they could wave a magic wand to bestow the office, rather than having the contenders go through a general election. She did less well, however, in a more traditional survey.
It seems that Warren is extremely popular—but that voters do not trust one another to share that high opinion of her.