No Path Forward for Elizabeth Warren’s Campaign for President, Political Scientists Say

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Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for president is dead, several political scientists said Wednesday.

After finishing a distant third in Iowa last week, Warren finished a dismal fourth in New Hampshire last night, in single digits if you don’t round up. Winning the Democratic nomination would have to come in a fashion that’s unprecedented and unlikely.

She finished behind Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar in the New Hampshire Democratic primary Tuesday, February 11.

Winning New Hampshire is no guarantee that Sanders will earn the Democratic nomination. He won every county in the state in the 2016 primary, but still lost to Hillary Clinton.

However, candidates from neighboring states who lost the New Hampshire primary have never won their party’s nomination. (Examples include Ted Kennedy in 1980, former Howard Dean in 2004, and Mitt Romney in 2008.)

If Warren earned her party’s nomination, she would be the first. However, New Boston Post spoke with a few political scientists after Warren’s loss, and they do not see that happening.

Andrew Smith, a political scientist from the University of New Hampshire, offered a blunt assessment.

“I just don’t see any way forward for her,” he told New Boston Post in a telephone interview. “The states coming up are not favorable to her. She really had to take advantage of being in New England and in a neighboring state with the little bit of an advantage she had. She doesn’t have the money that a lot of other candidates do. The story coming out of New Hampshire is going to be Bernie and Buttigieg and Klobuchar. There’s no more bandwidth for the press to cover her.”

Smith also said voters saw Warren as “Bernie-lite” and as less consistent in her worldview over the years than the democratic socialist from Vermont.

Warren is not polling well in Nevada, which holds its caucuses on Saturday, February 22 or in South Carolina, which holds its primary on Saturday, February 29. According to RealClearPolitics, Warren polled third in Nevada last month (11.5 percent) and fourth in South Carolina (9.5 percent) before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Those numbers are unlikely to rise after her poor showings and may drop further.

Additionally, according to Open Secrets, Warren had less cash on hand at the end of 2019 ($13.7 million) than Sanders ($18.2 million) and Buttigieg ($14.5 million).

She also now faces billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who is able to pour his own money into his campaign.

With the loss Warren took in the Granite State, Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, said he does not see a path forward for her.

 “Warren’s performance, though slightly better than Biden’s, is no less devastating for her campaign,” he told New Boston Post in an email message. “Sanders has the allegiance of most progressives. Buttigieg and Klobuchar are doing better among college-educated whites. Warren is a candidate without a significant base of support in her party.”

With no races in the Northeast until Massachusetts and Maine vote on Super Tuesday in March, Warren has no contests nearby. Veteran political scientist and New England College vice president of academic affairs Wayne Lesperance told New Boston Post that people should not expect as much media coverage of Warren’s campaign in the coming weeks, even if she stays in the race.

“The Warren campaign faces a defining moment following the disappointing fourth-place finish in N.H., a state she should have finished in the top two,” he said in an email message. “All of the energy in the last month has focused on Buttigieg and Sanders. Klobuchar’s very strong finish will have folks talking about her as top tier. Conversely, Warren is out of that conversation and it is difficult to see a way forward where she can reclaim top tier status.”

As of the wee hours of Wednesday, February 12, Warren said via Twitter that she is planning to stay in the race.