Elizabeth Warren is Surging. A Backlash Looks Likely

Rivals getting ready to pounce as she rises in the polls and draws big crowds
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2019 10:09 AM CDT
Warren Is Surging. Is the Backlash Coming?
In this Aug. 21 photo, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks during a town hall in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Elizabeth Warren is surging, which was not at all a certainty when her 2020 campaign got underway. But she's now drawing big crowds and attention for her detailed policy positions, all while establishing herself in the upper tier of candidates with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. The flip side of all that is that she is now expected to become a bigger target of her Democratic rivals. Here's a look at coverage:

  • Those crowds: The Hill notes that she drew 15,000 in Seattle on Aug. 25 and 12,000 in Minnesota the previous week. The story quotes a former aide to President Obama, who drew huge crowds himself as a 2008 candidate, though not at this stage. “What Warren is doing this early on is pretty unprecedented,” the aide says. “If we would have attracted crowd sizes that large early on, Hillary would have run for the hills." (The Sanders campaign counters that he has drawn comparably sized crowds.)
  • A skeptic: Count President Trump unimpressed about this. "They do stories so big on Elizabeth 'Pocahontas' Warren’s crowd sizes, adding many more people than are actually there, and yet my crowds, which are far bigger, get no coverage at all," he tweeted. "Fake News!" He made a similar point on the Brian Kilmeade radio show, per Fox News, asserting that news reports appear to be inflating Warren's crowd sizes. "Nobody even talks about my crowds," he adds.

  • Turbulence ahead? An analysis at Politico observes that Warren started out looking like a "second-rate candidate," in part because of weak fundraising. Now that she is entrenched as a front-runner, rivals are ramping up opposition research ahead of the next debates. One common theme: They think Warren should be pressed to provide more details on how to pay for her various policy initiatives. (She is counting on a tax of the uber-rich.) Critics also say her crowds lack diversity, and it's a safe bet that we haven't heard the last of her Native American controversy. All in all, she now "has a rougher stretch ahead of her."
  • Electability: An analysis at NPR also takes note of her rise, though it notes that polls suggest she'll have to overcome a perception among Democratic voters that she would not be able to beat Trump. Gender appears to be the big reason. "In some ways, it seems like it's a story that is self-perpetuating," says Debbie Walsh of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers. "There are a lot of people who say they're enthusiastic about her, but afraid others aren't—and that creates this notion that she or a woman in general won't become electable."
  • Still a problem: Another analysis at Politico Magazine suggests that Warren's biggest liability might well be the Native American issue. That's despite Warren's outreach to Native Americans and her policy proposal to help their communities. A key issue: Because "Warren has apologized for her past claims, she remains open to the charge she was dishonest when, during her academic career, she relied on nothing more than family lore to identify herself as Native American," writes Bill Scher.
  • Big moment ahead: Next month will feature something many Democratic voters have been waiting for: Warren and Biden on the same debate stage. How it shakes out could be telling for both of them, per the Los Angeles Times. "Warren wants to shake things up, Biden wants to calm things down." She's pushing "tectonic changes" in the economy and in politics, while he favors "more incremental reforms."
(More Elizabeth Warren stories.)

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