Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) claimed a strong victory in the 2020 New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary but of perhaps greater significance were the two clear losers. It’s hardly breaking news that the listing ship of former Vice President Joe Biden has been particularly unseaworthy of late, but progressive firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) campaign may just have been sunk by a New England state that decisively rejected her.
Downward and Out?
Sanders is now two-for-two in impressive ballot performances out of the gate while his main rival for the progressive mantle in the Dem field has underperformed dismally. Warren has been stumbling in the dark ever since her ill-advised post-debate confrontation with Sanders in Des Moines, IA, in January. In accusing Sanders of telling her in a private conversation that a woman could not win the presidency in 2020, and then playing the victim who feels personally wounded at being called a liar when Sanders denied making any such comment, Warren came across as petty and overly contentious. And all in a very contrived way. Sanders easily brushed the would-be squabble aside and has been cruising in the progressive lane ever since.
As Biden has faded, the establishment wing of the party, horrified over a potential Sanders nomination, has pushed the heretofore uninspiring campaigns of former South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). The predictable collapse of the aged Delaware political dinosaur has significantly boosted those two aspirants’ chances but has done nothing to help scuffling progressive Warren.
Comfortable Delusions Shattered
Coming off a weak third-place showing in Iowa, Warren desperately needed to show signs of life in a state that neighbors her home territory of Massachusetts. Instead, she was rolled even more convincingly. Sanders is, of course, a New Englander as well and was expected to win New Hampshire, but the Warren campaign simply cannot spin the fiasco that is being doubled up in the vote in her own backyard by an undistinguished Minnesotan who had lagged in polling throughout the preliminary primary season. Nor can Warren dismiss the fact that her chief progressive rival, Sanders, was on pace to nearly triple her paltry vote total.
“Our campaign is built for the long haul — and we’re just getting started,” Warren defiantly tweeted as the ugly details of her second straight also-ran showing were being revealed. Just how this is so is a complete mystery. In fact, her team seems more out of touch by the day. In a bizarre statement, Warren campaign manager Roger Lau asserted before polls closed on Feb. 11 that Sanders, the rapidly evaporating Biden, and Warren were the three sturdiest candidates in the Dem field and that “[i]n that three-way race, Elizabeth Warren is the candidate with the highest potential ceiling of support.”
Harsh reality then intruded upon this fantasy scenario as Lau’s candidate was thoroughly lapped by Buttigieg and Klobuchar on top of the thrashing Sanders administered to her in the progressive lane. Meanwhile, Biden, that other stout contender in Lau’s feverish mind, joined Warren at the deep bottom of the top-five barrel.
No Dem has shown the ability to deliver a knockout blow at this point, but in a field that needs to be culled, the startlingly poor performances of Biden and Warren offer evidence that some definition may finally be beginning to take shape. Buttigieg and Klobuchar will battle to take up the fallen Biden’s “moderate” (read: establishment) credentials while Sanders is poised to own the progressive aisle seeking to shake up the Democratic Party. As Warren falls out of the picture, billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be the only possible wild card left to disrupt a progressive vs. establishment battle royale between Sanders and the winner of the coming Buttigieg/Klobuchar struggle.
In this regard, then, the New Hampshire winners truly are not as important as the losers. There is indeed still a long way to go in the race for the nomination, but for Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, the journey may soon be over.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.
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