A weekly window on the American political scene hosted by the Monitor's politics editors.

The Democratic freak-out over Warren has begun

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.

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.

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.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.