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The Democratic freak-out over Warren has begun

Why We Wrote This

Concern about the Massachusetts senator's ability to win in key battleground states is generating new attacks from the Democratic establishment.   

Charlie Neibergall/AP
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., arrives to speak at a town hall meeting at Grinnell College, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Grinnell, Iowa.

Dear reader:

The Stop Warren effort has begun.

This week, The New York Times released a slew of polling that showed President Donald Trump running neck-and-neck with his top Democratic competitors in the states that will likely decide the election.

Most matchups were within the margin of error. Yet the difference between the Democratic candidates was hard to ignore. Former Vice President Joe Biden was slightly ahead or tied with President Trump in five of the six most competitive states. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was slightly ahead in three. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren trailed the president in five out of six.

“The poll supports concerns among some Democrats that [Warren’s] ideology and gender — including the fraught question of ‘likability’ — could hobble her candidacy among a crucial sliver of the electorate,” writes The Times’s Nate Cohn. “Not only does she underperform her rivals, but the poll also suggests that the race could be close enough for the difference to be decisive.”

This is causing something of a freak-out among Democrats, since Senator Warren is regarded by many as the current frontrunner. She polls at or near the top of the field in early primary states, she draws consistently large and enthusiastic crowds, and her organization and fundraising are impressive. She is also talented on the stump – she connects with the audience, can translate complicated policy into understandable soundbites, and has a clear rationale for her candidacy.

What she hasn’t done is quell concerns about her electability.

Even before The Times released its polling, a burgeoning panic among Democrats was palpable. The senator’s Medicare for All plan has come under sharp fire. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while not naming names, threw cold water on both Medicare for All and Senator Warren's proposed wealth tax, saying “what works in San Francisco does not necessarily work in Michigan.” On Monday, Steve Rattner, a former economic adviser to President Barack Obama, called a Warren presidency a “terrifying prospect.”

Warren defenders say the attacks reflect the fact that many of her policies would dislodge elites from their comfortable perch. They point to a new ABC News–Washington Post poll showing her ahead of President Trump by 15 points nationally (a margin that analysts say would ensure an Electoral College win as well).

But if she can’t find a way to demonstrate greater appeal to swing voters, the takedown may only be getting started.

Let us know what you’re thinking at csmpolitics@csmonitor.com.

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