Why Warren lost

Warren hurt herself more when she stood on a debate stage and refused to give straight answers to questions about how she would pay for Medicare for All. The college-educated white professionals who tend to like Warren also tend to like Klobuchar and Buttigieg. And those rivals accused Warren of being evasive and inauthentic. “At least Bernie’s being honest and saying how he’s going to pay for this and that taxes are going to go up,” Klobuchar said. “I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but you have not said that, and I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we’re going to send the invoice.” Suddenly, Warren seemed like a triangulator.

In an astute postmortem for NBC News, Benjy Sarlin explained why Medicare for All was a less risky position for Sanders, given his base, than for Warren. If you’re a college student or twentysomething who isn’t yet established in your career, or if your work doesn’t get you health care, or if your job is insecure, then the end of employer-provided health insurance is no great loss. But Warren relied more on older, college-educated voters who are wealthier than Bernie’s base––people likely to have secure jobs with insurance they like and that their kids rely on.

Later, when Warren declared that she would not even pursue Medicare for All until year three of her presidency, voters who opposed it were still worried, while those who favored it doubted her commitment.