Why the South Carolina debate won’t save Warren
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren benefitted from an impressive performance during the South Carolina Democratic primary debate on Tuesday. This is because she made an explicit case as to why she would make a better president than Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. She stressed that although she shares the same progressive goals as Sanders, she has a track record of being ‘effective’. She discussed her experience of forming coalitions, such as supporting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Warren also continued her attacks on former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She succeeded in persuading him to release women who have accused him of inappropriate behaviour from non-disclosure agreements, although he resisted the temptation of engaging in too much dialogue with her.
Despite her remarkable display at the South Carolina debate, it is unlikely her arguments will be sufficient enough to win over most voters in the crucial state.
She is already in fourth place regarding the number of delegates each candidate has. Sanders is storming ahead with 45 delegates, whilst South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden both have 25 and 15 delegates respectively.
A new poll conducted by NBC and Marist College shows Sanders trailing Biden by a narrow 27 to 23 percent margin. The former Vice President is still the favourite among South Carolina’s black voters as he enjoys 35 percent of their support in the polls, whilst the Vermont Senator is popular among 20 percent of black pollsters.
If Sanders wins this critical state, he would have shifted minority support away from Biden, who is basing his entire campaign on support from black and Hispanic voters who voted for Barack Obama, and it will be difficult for anyone left in the race to challenge the Vermont Senator if he beats Biden in South Carolina. This state has the potential to change everything.
Warren’s bid to present herself as a sensible alternative to Sanders is failing. Although she has based her campaign upon fighting corruption, she has attempted to be too many things to too many people. She expresses her love for capitalism, which she believes distinguishes herself from the Vermont Senator, whilst proposing that the state takes control of many aspects of the economy.
For example, she wants to end the practice of unpriced carbon emissions, she intends to end the accumulation of power many tech companies are currently enjoying in her eyes, and she would like to end the ‘oligarchy’ in America’s healthcare system.
Warren is essentially a New Deal Democrat, and in the eyes of many Democratic activists who are lifting Sanders to victory for now, she is just not deemed as radical enough. It is as if many Democrats believe that if they want a genuine alternative to the status quo, they will get that in Sanders, not the Massachusetts Senator.
Money is an important factor in American politics, and Warren is close to running out of it. According to Politico, she only has $2.3 million left in the bank, whilst Sanders has $17 million. Nearly one-third of delegates will be up for grabs on Super Tuesday on March 3rd, which means few candidates will be able to marshal resources to advertise to voters in 14 swing states.
Her debate performance last Wednesday managed to persuade Persist PAC to support her, so from her perspective, she needs to hope that her display on Tuesday will do the same.
For a candidate who was once the favourite to win these primaries and the one most likely to win against Donald Trump, Warren’s campaign has experienced one significant setback after another. No matter how many times she impresses at primary debates, it is unlikely this will be the Massachusetts Senator’s time to become the Democratic nominee.