While I was in Europe, and not paying much attention to the news, Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy surged. Polling suggests that she has moved well past Pete Buttigieg into no worse than third place in the race for the Democratic nomination. A very recent poll by YouGov has her in second place, ahead of Bernie Sanders.
What explains Warren’s surge? Paul Waldman of the Washington Post tries to answer that question here. This is Katrina vanden Heuvel’s attempt. Jennifer Rubin is usually good for a laugh. She weighs in here.
Warren is, I think, the most demagogic of the Democratic candidates. She demonizes capitalists while pretending to support capitalism. She serves up villains, mostly pantomime ones, while Sanders, her main competition in the radical lane, blames the system — a more plausible but less visceral form of radicalism.
Joe Biden is wishy-washy. Sanders is a straightforward socialist. Buttigieg is crunchy. Harris has obvious demagogic traits but hasn’t found her voice in the way Warren has. Advantage Warren, at least with a not inconsiderable chunk of Democratic voters.
Demagogic nationalism worked for Trump in 2016. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised that it has given Warren a boost in this cycle.
Another factor working in Warren’s favor is her gender. An awful lot of Democrats are determined to nominate a woman in 2020. Harris, as I said, hasn’t found her voice. She is short on specific answers on some substantive issues.
Warren found her voice years ago and offers solutions (after a fashion) for all that ails society. She may emerge as the leading female candidate, in which case she automatically will be a serious contender.
I should add, though, that I did not foresee Warren’s surge. It doesn’t shock me, but I didn’t predict it. Accordingly, my attempts to explain it after the fact should be viewed as considerably less than authoritative.