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Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign: This Is About A Brokered Convention Now
CHARLESTON, SC - FEBRUARY 26: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a campaign rally at the Charleston Music Hall on February 26, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. South Carolina holds its Democratic presidential primary on Saturday, February 29.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) tacitly admitted, in an email to supporters that went out Saturday night, that the Massachusetts Democrat is staying in the race past Super Tuesday in order to compete for the nomination at a brokered Democratic National Convention in July.

Warren is facing calls to drop out after placing a dismal fourth or fifth in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and, as of Saturday, South Carolina, leaving little hope that she will ever top the ticket at the behest of Democratic voters. She is not leading in any Super Tuesday states — not even her home state of Massachusetts (she’s losing, it seems, to the more reliably progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)).

But, as FiveThirtyEight has repeatedly pointed out, there is a good chance — 1 in 7 — that no current candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is likely to get a majority of available delegates, throwing the Democratic National Convention to a second vote, putting superdelegates in play, and paving the way for a “brokered convention,” where candidates wheel and deal to win the nod.

As of Sunday, former Vice President Joe Biden’s chances of snagging the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have increased to 2 in 5. Sanders’ chances are now 1 in 5, but the “brokered convention” scenario is not far behind. Warren is behind “brokered convention” at a 1 in 8 chance of being nominated to take on President Donald Trump.

But in a brokered convention, it’s anyone’s game — and that’s what Warren is counting on, according to her campaign.

“As the dust settles after March 3rd, the reality of this race will be clear,” Warren’s memo reads. “No candidate will likely have a path to the majority of delegates needed to win an outright claim to the Democratic nomination.”

Warren’s team then sets out their “path to victory,” through a number of small contests (the Northern Mariana Islands) and late states (Alaska and Hawaii), to enough of a delegate total to make Warren a power player on a second convention vote.

“In the road to the nomination, the Wisconsin primary is halftime and Milwaukee is the final play,” Warren’s team concludes, referring to the Democratic National Convention. “Our grassroots campaign is built to compete in every state and territory and ultimately prevail at the national convention in Milwaukee.”

Candidates who currently have a shot at the nomination — and a good chance at racking up just under the number of delegates necessary to take the nomination outright — like Sanders have been adamant that the nomination go to the top vote-getter regardless of whether they have a majority of delegates or not; anything else would be subverting the will of the people. But Sanders argued, back in 2016, that such an outcome would be unfair, particularly if superdelegates become involved, as they would in any “brokered convention” scenario.

No matter what, the plan is a “Hail Mary” pass for Warren. There hasn’t been a brokered convention since the modern system was first put in place in 1972, and Warren isn’t among the top preferences for either voters or superdelegates (who would be more likely to select a “moderate” like Biden or former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg).

Warren is, also, “trying to survive a month without winning any delegates. She last won any in Iowa on Feb. 3 and is now banking on Super Tuesday after she was shut out in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina,” per The New York Times.

More than 400 delegates are up for grabs on Tuesday in more than a dozen states. Warren is well behind in most of them.

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