This is a dissenting opinion in response to the M-A Chronicle’s endorsement of Senator Elizabeth Warren for the 2020 Democratic Primary.
Sure, there are differences between Elizabeth Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’ platforms. For one, Sanders’ Workplace Democracy Plan, as compared to its Warren counterpart, is more comprehensive in its aim to rebuild the middle class through unionization; Sanders’ environmental policy received an ‘A+’ from Greenpeace, while Warren’s received an ‘A.’
But, in facing down an obstinate Republican-controlled Senate, the functional difference between a Sanders and Warren presidency would be limited. As such, policy should take a backseat to electability as the primary concern of progressives.
In this respect, Sanders is really the only option. In the wake of his decisive Saturday victory in the Nevada caucuses, Sanders has not only won the popular vote in the first three primary contests, but has firmly established himself as the Democratic frontrunner.
According to a FiveThirtyEight poll, Sanders currently has a 64% chance of winning a plurality of delegates in the primary, followed by Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg. Warren was behind Bloomberg, at a 1% chance.
In allowing this inter-candidate divisiveness to continue–that which has characterized the progressive wing of the Democratic party so far in the primaries–we are increasing the chance of a moderate winning the nomination (in the same way Joe Biden sneaks up to give one of his “patented” back-rubs).
And, in a general election, the likelihood of a Sanders victory is simply greater than a Warren: the several national polls put a Sanders margin of victory over Donald Trump multiple points ahead of a Warren.
Sanders is uniquely well-equipped to mobilize parts of the electorate that Warren has historically struggled to connect to. Lower-income, less educated, and less politically active people–or, the bulk of Americans–have a clear preference for him. His emotional, simplistic rhetoric, for better or worse, is much more accessible than Warren’s headier, former-Harvard-Law-Professor mode of expression.
In 2016, Donald Trump won 64% of the non-college educated whites, a group which constituted 44% of the electorate. In order to run a viable challenge against him, we need a candidate who can convince these voters–who are essentially Donald Trump’s base–to vote in their own self-interest. In New Hampshire and Iowa (both overwhelmingly white states), Sanders won 31% and 30%, respectively, of the “no degree” vote. Warren won 6% and 14%.
Progressives need to show a united front behind one candidate, one who can win both the primary and general election; “Medicare for All” is still Medicare for all, regardless of how it is funded. And, as of right now, Bernie Sanders makes the strongest case for electability.