Here’s an example of how this works, from a past Democratic primary. Early in the 2008 campaign, John Edwards released a comprehensive plan to provide health care for millions of Americans. A few months later, then-Sen. Barack Obama, looking to compete with Edwards among liberal voters and activists, put out a similar proposal, which was the basic outline for the Affordable Care Act he signed into law as president.

In the 2020 Democratic nomination process, I expect that other candidates will also have lots of policy proposals. And Bernie Sanders in particular is likely to join Warren in pushing the Democratic primary debate to the left. But Warren is likely to be at the forefront of the “policy primary,”– the one-time Harvard professor is perhaps the wonkiest person in the field. And Warren knows how to push her ideas onto the national agenda quite well. Before she was elected to the Senate, Warren convinced congressional Democrats and President Obama to create the agency now known as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Warren campaign aides told me that unveiling major policy proposals will be a big part of her candidacy, with the ideas intended to reinforce Warren’s broader message that the country needs “big, structural change,” not just incremental tweaks.