Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Johnson County’s pick for president, drops out of the 2020 race

Sen. Elizabeth Warren makes at pinky promise after a rally at CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids. Thursday, March 8, 2018. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced on Thursday morning she is dropping out of the 2020 presidential race. The Massachusetts senator revealed her decision in a phone call with her campaign staff.

“I may not be in the race for President in 2020, but this fight — our fight — is not over. And our place in this fight has not ended,” Warren said, according to a transcript of her remarks published by her campaign.

Warren’s decision comes two days after her poor showing on Super Tuesday, in which she failed to win any of that day’s 16 primaries, including the one in her home state of Massachusetts.

The senator’s best finish in the 2020 race came in the Feb. 3 Iowa Caucus, in which she finished third. She won Johnson County, receiving 33 percent of the state delegate equivalents (SDEs), ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (32.3 percent) and Pete Buttigieg (21 percent). It is the only Iowa county in which Warren came in first.

Although she ultimately failed to convince voters to support her, Warren was probably the most influential Democratic candidate in term of how the 2020 race was run prior to the Iowa Caucus.

Warren entered the race early — officially declaring her candidacy in February 2019 — and immediately moved to hire experienced campaign workers and create a nationwide structure for her candidacy. This compelled other Democrats to join the race early, resulting in a longer-than-normal campaign season.

Warren also set the standard for how candidates discuss their policy ideas by publishing detailed explanations of her proposals. Other candidates followed her example. As a result, public discussions of policy questions played a larger role in the 2020 primary season than they have in any previous election since the current nominating process was created in 1972.

Supporters of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Cedar Rapids, June 9, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

On her call with her campaign staff, Warren talked about the impact of the ideas that she put at the center of her campaign.

You know a year ago, people weren’t talking about a 2-cent wealth tax, universal childcare, cancelling student loan debt for 43 million Americans while reducing the racial wealth gap, or breaking up big tech. Or expanding Social Security. And now they are. And because we did the work of building broad support for all of those ideas across this country, these changes could actually be implemented by the next president.

A year ago, people weren’t talking about corruption, and they still aren’t talking about it enough – but we’ve moved the needle, and a hunk of our anti-corruption plan is already embedded in a House bill that is ready to go when we get a Democratic Senate.

Despite the fact that Warren finished ahead of Joe Biden in Iowa, she largely disappeared from the national media’s campaign coverage following the caucus, which instead focused on the electoral prospects of Biden, Buttigieg and Sanders. Even though, as Warren regularly pointed out, she was the only Democratic 2020 candidate to have defeated an incumbent Republican in the last 30 years, she was almost entirely left out of the national media’s discussions of “electability.”

Interestingly, a story in the Wall Street Journal two days before Super Tuesday about how business leaders view Sanders noted that Warren was the candidate Wall Street feared most, in part because she was viewed as likely to beat President Trump in the general election.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren entering a campaign rally at the IMU River Amphitheater, Sept. 19, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Sarah Bianchi, a policy analyst at broker Evercore ISI, said one reason is that they thought Ms. Warren could beat Mr. Trump, but that Mr. Sanders couldn’t. Prediction markets show that as the probability of Mr. Sanders winning the nomination rose clearly above 50% this year, so did the probability of Mr. Trump being re-elected.

Another reason, Ms. Bianchi said, is that Ms. Warren’s affinity for the minutiae of policy and insider’s grasp of the law suggests she would be more determined and effective at implementing her ideas.

Warren’s withdrawal from the race leaves only three Democratic candidates still competing: Biden, Sanders and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. (Gabbard has done very little active campaigning this year, but did win two delegates in the American Samoa primary on Tuesday.)

Speaking to her campaign staff on Thursday, Warren told them “choose to fight only righteous fights, because then when things get tough — and they will — you will know that there is only option ahead of you: nevertheless, you must persist.”

She finished her remarks by saying, “Our work continues, the fight goes on, and big dreams never die.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren surrounded by the media at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 10, 2019. — Anjali Huynh/Little Village

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