Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) earned the coveted Des Moines Register endorsement to win the Iowa cacucses, but the Register’s editorial board may be the only reliable voters Warren has left in the first-in-the-nation primary state, according to recent polls.
“The outstanding caliber of Democratic candidates makes it difficult to choose just one,” the Des Moines Register noted Sunday, after interviewing nine candidates for the job. But Warren, they added, is “the best leader for these times.”
But it’s not clear that the Register thought that every Democratic candidate contending for the 2020 presidential nomination is qualified, nor is it clear that Warren is the best among them. The Register’s argument for Warren seems, mostly, to be that she’s neither former Vice President Joe Biden nor Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Her “competence, respect for others and status as the nation’s first female president would be a fitting response to the ignorance, sexism and xenophobia of the Trump Oval Office.”
But they also say that Warren is just a little too radical for the job, criticizing her push for “structural” change, noting that it goes too far towards complete government control. “But Warren is pushing in the right direction,” they say, seemingly consoling themselves with the idea that a legislature — and reality — will somehow provide a check on President Warren’s shocking agenda.
For Warren, the endorsement is a strong reminder that she’s still competitive in Iowa, but it may not be the all-encompassing win her team wanted from the paper. Locked in heavy competition with Sanders for the title of “most likely progressive” to take the Oval Office, the Register warns that she’s “not the radical some perceive her to be,” definitely hitting Warren right in her far-left bona fides.
And, at this point, the Register’s endorsement may make little difference in the outcome of the Iowa caucuses, now just nine short days away. According to a CBS News poll released Sunday, Warren isn’t competing for the top slot — or even second place. Sanders and Biden are locked in a dead heat for first, separated by only one point (with Bernie, for the first time, in the lead, though both well within the margin of error). Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in third with 22% (just outside the margin of error), and Warren is now solidly in third with 15%, seven points behind Buttigieg.
That poll also puts Warren on the bubble for even competing in the Iowa caucuses. If candidates do not get 15% in the first round of voting, they are out and their electors must make a second choice. That’s good news for Sanders, who will probably be on the receiving end of Warren’s votes, giving him a leg up on Biden if voting goes to a second round.
There is one spot of good news for Warren, at least, from Real Clear Politics, which notes that her tumble — a striking ten points since November — has finally slowed, suggesting that she may be finally hitting rock bottom among Democratic primary voters.
“The Buttigieg surge and the Sanders mini-surge have faded. Elizabeth Warren has steadied after dropping nearly ten points since November. Meanwhile, Joe Biden has been slowly gaining back the ground he lost at the end of 2019 and he’s now back in the lead—though only by a few points,” Mother Jones notes, distilling the RCP results.