It’s an impressive list of strengths, which is why she looked like the front-runner in the race until a few months ago. And her weaknesses? I think there is one that looms above any other.
The E word
It’s electability. Many Democrats are nervous that Warren would struggle to beat President Trump in the general election. In hypothetical head-to-head polls, Warren fares worse than Biden, Bloomberg and Sanders (and similar to, though slightly worse than, Buttigieg and Klobuchar).
If you’re skeptical of these polls’ significance, Warren’s electoral record also offers reason for concern. In her two Senate elections in Massachusetts, she has not fared as well as other Democrats on the ballot, especially in working-class areas that bear some resemblance to Midwestern swing states.
I know that some of Warren’s supporters consider any discussion of electability to be ludicrous. They argue, with some justification, that it’s hard to judge electability months in advance of a general election campaign.
But I think Warren has left herself open to legitimate criticism here. She has not made it a priority to appeal to moderate Democrats in the primary and, by extension, to send a message that she cares about winning over swing voters in the general election.
She supported a mandatory version of Medicare even though most Americans do not. (More recently, she has moderated her position in a sensible way, but it doesn’t eliminate her vulnerability on the issue.) Likewise, she supports decriminalizing illegal border crossings, again in contrast to public opinion. And she supports a ban on fracking, which could make her especially vulnerable in Pennsylvania.
The bottom line is that Warren has a better claim to being the strongest potential Democrat president than to being the strongest potential nominee. Of course, every candidate in this field has some electability issues, and I understand why Warren is now getting a new look from more Democratic voters. She has strengths that no other candidate does.
This content was originally published here.