Elizabeth Warren’s primary campaign came into the 2020 season with high hopes. She was largely seen as the “what could have been” candidate in 2016, with a supposedly strong base and wide appeal within the Democratic party.
Well, that’s all burning to the ground now. Her financial director has quit, signaling very bad things for her ability to even sustain an operation long term.
Report is via The New York Times.
“If you think that’s a good idea, go to ElizabethWarren.com,” she told about 500 people at a town hall-style event in Memphis, adding: “Pitch in five bucks, do whatever you can.”
The next morning she woke up to some news about a surge in small-dollar contributions, but it wasn’t for her: Former Representative Beto O’Rourke had raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours of his candidacy.
It was another blow to a candidate who has spent the first months of the Democratic presidential primary campaign seeking to distinguish herself from the field: She was the first major candidate to announce; she has set the pace on policy, unveiling a series of far-reaching proposals on child care, taxes and the role of large technology companies; and she defied the pleas of her longtime finance director and declared that she would stop pursuing big donations altogether, leading to his resignation.
You need money in politics. Period.
It may sound good to swear off big donors, but ultimately you just end up broke. Her finance director saw that he was left with nothing to work with and has now quit. Worse, even in the small donor game, she’s getting trounced by the resident communist and the punk rocking furry. If you can’t compete with those guys, your campaign is unlikely to really ever take flight.
Just how bad are her fundraising woes?
Ms. Warren’s most immediate challenge, though, may be money. She raised only $299,000 in the first day of her candidacy, far below the $5.9 million and $6.1 million Mr. Sanders and Mr. O’Rourke brought in for the same period and also less than Ms. Harris. In emails to supporters, asking for as little as $3, her campaign flatly says her rivals will post “fund-raising figures we won’t be able to match.”
And after demonstrating little capacity to raise cash online, Ms. Warren effectively doubled down on small-dollar contributions, announcing last month that she would no longer hold big-money fund-raisers or seek wealthy donors to bundle hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks.
$299,000 vs. $6.1M is a gigantic spread and her answer is to simply double down. That’s not going to work out very well for her. If she can’t even get traction among the online donor base, that should tell herself something about her lack of overall appeal.
Warren has a plan though. She’s going to transfer $10M from her Senate re-election coffers and try to use that to keep herself afloat. She’ll need to stay relevant until at least the end of 2019, at which point her hope would be that she’s gotten a major following behind her.
Ms. Warren has good reason to remain optimistic — or at least not to panic just yet. Even if she struggles to raise money in the early going, she can finance her ambitious campaign thanks to the $10 million aides say she has transferred from her Senate campaign account.
While The New York Times tries to put a happy face on this, I wouldn’t say that’s a good reason to remain optimistic. It sounds more like a good way to set a lot of money on fire for no gain.
Warren’s polling has cratered, with her only pulling 4% and 5% in the latest two measures of the Democratic primary field. She’s being overshadowed by a rich guy who’s only reason to run is that he’s bored and that he likes to stand on things. If she can’t compete with O’Rourke, she’s not going to compete with Biden and Sanders. Right now, Warren is polling closer to some guy named Yang than to any of the real competitors.
Some may say that Donald Trump started in a similar situation when he first entered his primary race. The differences couldn’t be more stark. Warren is not a disruptive or energizing figure, all things Trump was despite his many character flaws. He stood out in a crowded field. Warren by contrast is awkward and contrived in performance. Whether it’s her inability to explain her lies about Native American heritage or people making fun of her hand gestures, she’s not just very good at this. She also has no natural base with Bernie Sanders sucking up all the wannabe Marxists.
One of the good things about Trump being an incumbent is that we get to sit back and watch all this happen. Warren has been a do nothing Senator since her initial election. She sought to selfishly parlay that lack of accomplishment into a national profile and it’s all falling apart. There’s something poetic about that.
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