It’s working. The phenomenal national and early-state rise of Buttigieg, an opponent of Medicare-for-all, seems to have come entirely at the expense of Warren. Like Biden, Buttigieg is loathed by the left-wing Twitterati and has almost no support from younger Democrats despite his ostentatious effort to position himself as the vanguard of a new generation. But his relentless attacks on Warren’s health-care plan have convinced a slice of her supporters that somehow the mayor of a mid-sized town is a safer bet against President Trump than she is. The theatrical entry into the race of billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg last month only reinforced the sense that party elites and center-leftists were in a state of full-blown panic about a Warren nomination.
Yet the unsubtle moderate mob hit on Warren, as successful as it has been, has also had the unintended effect of boosting the fortunes of Sanders. He’s up more than three points in the polling average since his campaign announced he had suffered a heart attack on Oct. 4 — a time when he had fallen behind Warren and seemed at risk of falling out of the race altogether. But he looked healthy and unfazed in the Oct. 15 debate and rolled up a series of important endorsements. Flanked by the wildly popular young progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders has taken second place back from Warren, looks like he’s surging in Iowa, and has even led some polls of California and New Hampshire. But Sanders, like Warren, would need momentum from early state victories to cut into Biden’s leads in the Super Tuesday states. Coming close probably won’t cut it.