January 13, 2020

Elizabeth Warren Woos Women to Turn Around Her Campaign
(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who has seen her national lead dwindle on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, is turning back to a bloc of voters she once appeared to have locked up: Women.She’s putting high-profile women surrogates and activists on the front lines of her campaign in Iowa, giving interviews to fashion magazines and trying to broaden her coalition beyond the white, educated progressives who form the backbone of her support.The moves show an attempt to restore the bridge-building formulation that put her neck-and-neck with front-runner Joe Biden just three months ago. Since then, she’s lost her advantage among women, traded older voters for less reliable younger ones and failed to make inroads among minority voters.Warren still leads among Democrats who call themselves “very liberal,” even surpassing the self-avowed socialist Bernie Sanders by 9 percentage points in one recent Quinnipiac Poll. She has less support across the political spectrum, trailing Biden by 29 points among moderates.Warren launched her campaign last year in Lawrence, Massachusetts, home of a women-led 1912 textile strike that formed the emotional backbone of her announcement speech. “These workers  —  led by women – didn’t have much. Not even a common language,” she said. “Nevertheless… they persisted!”At the height of her campaign, Warren had the support of one-third of women -- a 9 percentage point gender gap over her male support. That advantage has all but disappeared.Warren’s campaign declined to comment for this story.Women make up 58% of Democratic primary voters, but only three of the remaining 13 candidates. Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Tulsi Gabbard are now collectively polling at less than 20%, according to the RealClearPolitics average.Warren’s frequent policy roll-outs have often made implicit appeals to women. She has detailed platforms on abortion rights, maternal mortality, pay equity, part-time workers, family leave and universal child care.Now, that appeal to women is becoming explicit. Warren appeared in three different women’s fashion magazines in the last week, outlining her vision for the presidency but also offering up more personal, relatable details about what’s she’s like off the campaign trail.In Cosmopolitan, she described her daily skincare routine. In Vogue, she revealed that she shops at Target and H&M for her trademark cardigans. And in Elle, she gave dating advice under the headline “Elizabeth Warren Wants You To Ditch That Guy, Get A Dog, And Vote To Tax The Wealthy.”In Iowa this weekend, the Warren campaign held a series of organizing events with a new group called Black Womxn For, which endorsed the candidate in November. And Warren also brought in one of her former Harvard law students — Representative Katie Porter, an Iowa native who was elected to Congress from California in 2018 as part of a wave of Democratic women.Susan Burton, 51, an insurance company manager in Clear Lake, Iowa, said Warren’s electability was a factor.“She’s more progressive than a lot of the other candidates. I want someone more progressive but I don’t know that the entire country wants someone more progressive. I obviously want someone that will win, so it makes me worry in that regard.”Warren’s also trying to broaden her appeal beyond white voters.She sent former Housing Secretary Julian Castro to Nevada to campaign for her at a Hispanic supermarket in Las Vegas. Castro, who was the only Latino candidate in the race before dropping out this month, is highlighting Warren’s efforts to appeal to a broader coalition.“Elizabeth Warren is the candidate who can unite the entire Democratic Party,” Castro said as he introduced her at a New York rally last week. “She can bring people together. She can appeal to all sides.”Warren is not the only Democratic candidate struggling to unite the party’s various factions and constituency groups. Biden and Sanders have big generational divides to overcome, and Pete Buttigieg is lagging with African-American voters.None has been able to reassemble the Obama coalition — union workers and progressives boosted by an influx of young and minority voters — still considered the winning formula for Democrats.But can they? “The short answer is the Obama coalition was specific to Obama,” said Lyn Ragsdale, a Rice University professor and expert on voting behavior. “The Democratic candidates for 2020 are going to create their own coalitions.”It is too early to say “who is best positioned to capture both young people and blacks,” Ragsdale said. “I don’t see Warren being that person at the moment but no one else jumps to mind either.”But no candidate gets the coalition question as consistently as Warren. In one recent Iowa event, a voter asked her how she’d bridge the divisiveness in the U.S. At another, someone asked her how she would unite voters across party lines if elected president.Warren’s answer is often the same: She blamed Trump for turning people against one another and described her family’s political diversity. Of her three older brothers, she says, only one is a Democrat.“There aren’t just Republicans and Democrats, it’s that all of us understand that we’re getting cheated by the guys at the top.”Warren argues that moderate proposals will fail to excite the coalition necessary to defeat Trump, implying that candidates like Biden and Buttigieg can’t win a general election. “If they think that nibbling around the edges of really big problems is somehow a safe strategy, they are wrong,” Warren said Saturday. “If the best we can promise is business as usual after Donald Trump, the Democrats will lose.”Warren’s allies acknowledge that coalition-building is a long game.“It’s less important to look at any one snapshot and more important to look at the trajectory of how a candidate is doing with certain Democrats,” said Adam Green, chairman of the pro-Warren Progressive Change Campaign Committee.“There may be certain candidates who started with certain advantages, and the question is, where are they trending?” he said.Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke and Castro, candidates thought to have appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters, have dropped out of the race. Cory Booker failed to catch fire with voters and dropped out of the race Monday. Sanders, who kept his supporters from his 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton, has struggled to break 20% in national polls since Biden got into the race in April.And Biden, the national front-runner, has shown weakness in Iowa and New Hampshire but overwhelming support in South Carolina, where the majority of Democratic primary voters are black.Warren, by contrast, seemed to get a polling boost from Biden’s entry in the race, and pulled even with him briefly in October at 27% before falling back to 14% more recently.Warren seems to be aware that she needs to broaden her base beyond traditional Democratic supporters to win the White House. She defines her coalition in terms designed to appeal to both the Democrats’ left wing and disaffected Trump supporters.“We’ve got to be willing to embrace each other’s fights,” Warren said in Manchester, Iowa, this month. “We’ve got to be willing to say your fight is my fight and build that coalition together. It’s a big part of why I decided to run a grassroots movement rather than spend my time with rich people.”(Adds Booker dropping out in 29th paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Gregory Korte in Washington at gkorte@bloomberg.net;Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou in Marshalltown, Iowa at megkolfopoul@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Max BerleyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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