What caused Warren’s campaign collapse?


For a brief moment, Elizabeth Warren looked like she might be on the path to the Democratic presidential nomination. After lagging in the early months of the campaign, the Massachusetts senator gained steam over the summer and rose to the top spot in national polls by October.

But Warren’s fortunes turned quickly. By the Iowa caucuses — where she finished third — her polling numbers had been cut nearly in half. On Tuesday, she came in a distant fourth in the New Hampshire primary and took home no delegates.

In a speech Tuesday night, Warren emphasized how much of the primary is still to come and vowed to stay in the race. “We still have 98 percent of the delegates for our nomination up for grabs, and Americans in every part of our country are going to make their voices heard,” she said. Even though the bulk of the country is still up for grabs, one forecaster puts Warren’s odds of winning the nomination at 3 percent.

Why there’s debate

Warren’s decline has been attributed to a number of factors — some of them strategic missteps and others beyond her control. When she was rising in the polls, Warren appeared to have carved out a space as the candidate who could deliver on a progressive policy agenda that liberals in the party wanted without the perceived radicalism that made moderates turn away from Bernie Sanders. But that strategy may have left her stuck in a space where she’s not quite left enough to peel votes away from Sanders yet still too progressive to appeal to centrists. Others say she was hurt by her ambivalent responses to questions about Medicare for All, which undercut her persona as the candidate with “a plan for that.”

Some posit that her rise in October was a bit of smoke and mirrors caused by Sanders supporters who were concerned about his health after a heart attack, but who ultimately returned to his camp. Another frequently cited reason is sexism, both in its typical form and in a form unique to the Democratic race. Some pundits say there’s what could be called a “Hillary hangover” that makes voters worry about the electability of any woman going up against Donald Trump in the general election after Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016.

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