Elizabeth Warren has a reputation for being a hardcore progressive on the issues. She certainly talks the talk when it comes to Medicare for all, environmental issues, the wealth gap, and she predictably blamed sexism for her inability to obtain her party’s nomination. She had a brief period of being the frontrunner (or at least a top contender for the nomination) and so her dropping out of the race certainly hit her and her supporters hard.
But it also sparked intense speculation about whom she might endorse.
It is now a two-man race (sorry Tulsi, you’re not actually a contender) and Democrats now have to decide between which rich old white guy they want to represent their party and face Donald Trump in November: Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden. While the latter has the momentum, the former has an army of motivated supporters that eclipses those of any candidate. Biden’s support is based largely on Obama nostalgia and his perceived electability, while Sanders has genuinely built a coalition of support that is intensely loyal to him and the revolution he’s promised.
A bitter battle like the one in 2016 between Bernie and Hillary Clinton would probably hurt the party in the long run, making Elizabeth Warren’s endorsement a potential game-changer in 2020. If Warren can convince her supporters to coalesce behind Biden, it could be a deathblow to Bernie Sanders and his revolution.
But, ideologically speaking, Elizabeth Warren is closer to Bernie Sanders than Joe Biden. From a conservative’s perspective, there isn’t much daylight between the three of them, but if you’re a Democratic primary voter, there’s a difference. Joe Biden is perceived as the moderate candidate who has the best chance of attracting moderate voters–and probably a few NeverTrumpers.
While there has been some bad blood between Warren and Sanders during the campaign, if Elizabeth Warren genuinely believes in the progressive ideals she campaigned on, she’ll endorse Bernie Sanders. But, if her motivation is to advance her career, she’ll endorse Joe Biden, with perhaps the expectation of being chosen as his running mate. A Biden-Warren ticket might not be the most geographically balanced ticket, but would be considered a somewhat ideologically balanced ticket. A Sanders-Warren ticket would be neither, and thus, a Warren endorsement of Sanders is extremely unlikely because Sanders would want to pick someone who can appeal to moderates as his running mate. So, the decision Warren has to make is a choice between principles or career advancement.
Elizabeth Warren spent decades claiming to be a minority in order to advance her career. So, the odds are likely that if she endorses any candidate, it will be Biden, since he’s the safest candidate favored to win the nomination. Biden could sweeten the deal by announcing her as her running mate the same way Ted Cruz did in 2016 with Carly Fiorina, and ensure most of her supporters would likely coalesce behind the ticket and potential siphon votes from Bernie Sanders.
I suspect that Warren’s decision not to endorse anyone upon her dropping out was to entertain “offers” from the Sanders and Biden camps to help inform her of her decision. If she ends up not endorsing anyone, it likely means neither made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis