Being Right: Get Ready for Warren vs. Sanders!

Connor Madalo, Maroon-News Staff

While the media has been laser focused on the Trump-Ukraine talks and the impeachment inquiry these past couple weeks, the 2020 Democratic Primary has been shaken up with its own drama. The Bernie Sanders campaign cancelled a major event in Las Vegas after Sanders was hospitalized for a heart attack. Former Vice President Joe Biden has been dragged into the mud with President Trump as his involvement with Ukraine during the Obama administration has been questioned. Meanwhile, Warren has benefitted from her competitors’ falls, continuing her climb in the polls.

As a result, Warren has extended her lead as the odds-on-favorite to win the Democratic nomination. The Economist betting odds give her a 51 percent chance of winning the nomination as of October 5 as opposed to Biden’s 22 percent. While nearly tied with Biden in national polling averages, she has a lead in the key early primary states of New Hampshire and Iowa. If Warren continues with this same momentum, she will undoubtedly win the nomination.

Before we start thinking about Trump vs. Warren in 2020 though, it should be remembered that the Democratic Primary is just three of 12 debates in so far and there are still four months until the primaries actually begin in February. A lot can happen to either derail the Warren campaign or propel another candidate to the forefront of the race, much like how Biden’s overwhelming support at his campaign announcement has steadily declined. 

Warren’s first obstacle will come from the Sanders campaign. In the last debates, there was a prisoner’s dilemma between Biden, Warren and Sanders. Each candidate knew that the best outcome for them was to let the other two battle it out so they could absorb their voters. The issue was that no one wanted to be in the fight, and therefore no hard punches were thrown. As a result, Warren ended up winning the stalemate in the debate, continuing her steady rise in the polls.

This next debate, however, Sanders will have to make a move if he hopes to stay in the race. It is evident that Warren has taken his spot as the progressive candidate, establishing policy positions during her candidacy that Sanders has had for the past couple decades. In the first few debates where they faced opposition from much more moderate candidates, they worked more for each other than against. To save his campaign, especially in the aftermath of negative coverage relating to his health, Sanders will have to stop Warren’s momentum and win back progressive support.

As much as Warren embraces being the anti-corruption candidate, standing against corporations, big banks and big tech, she may not be all that immune to corruption herself. Last month, the left-wing organization the Working Families Party, which overwhelmingly voted to support Sanders over Hillary Clinton in 2016, endorsed Warren over Sanders. Media outlets have reported since then that the progressive think tank Demos, which Warren’s daughter co-chairs, donated 45,000 dollars to the organization, making its endorsement of Warren over Sanders questionable. This coupled with her known history of purporting to be Native American to get ahead in her career makes her anti-corruption positions appear hypocritical and insincere, and Sanders’ base is undoubtedly frustrated by this.

With this in mind, Sanders is likely to target Warren directly during the debates next week, assuming no other candidate goes after her first. Biden, already weakened from gaffes and now the Ukraine controversy, is likely to sit back if Warren is attacked, knowing her support would likely carry over to him. 

However, Biden still has good reason to be worried. Despite far outperforming his far-left competitors in general election polls against Trump, his “return to normalcy” campaign is losing ground fast. If the nomination represents a trade-off for Democratic voters between the more liberal and more electable candidates, it seems that the liberal candidates are winning out.