vision 2020

No, Warren Didn’t Rob Bernie of the Nomination

Ideological allies with significantly different bases of support. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/2019 Getty Images

Never one to show graciousness, President Trump greeted the news of the suspension of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign instantly with this nasty crack aimed at sowing dissension in the Democratic ranks:

The idea that Warren was the willing instrument of some sort of DNC conspiracy to screw over Sanders is ludicrous, of course. But often with Trump you see one of his ridiculous premises escaping scrutiny because it’s followed so closely by something even more ridiculous. So let’s examine the claim that Warren cost Bernie “almost every state on Super Tuesday.”

First of all, Biden’s margin over Sanders was larger than Warren’s total vote in five of the Super Tuesday states he carried (Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas). And you might as well add a sixth where Biden would have surely won anyway: Oklahoma, where his margin over Bernie (13.3 percent) means that virtually every single one of the 13.4 percent voting for Warren there would have had to pull the lever for Sanders to catapult him to victory.

And the best evidence we have suggests that Warren voters were far more equally split between Sanders and Biden than the conventional wisdom might have suggested, as FiveThirtyEight noted after Warren dropped out shortly after Super Tuesday:

Morning Consult, for instance, found that 43 percent of Warren supporters would opt for Sanders as their second choice, while 36 percent would choose Biden. And a recent Ipsos/Reuters poll found that Warren supporters’ second-choice loyalties were evenly split, with 47 percent picking Sanders, and 46 percent backing Biden.

If you find that implausible based on stereotypes of the two New England senators being ideological peas in a pod from which progressives chose, consider their very different bases of support, as indicated in Super Tuesday exit polls when white voters were divided by gender and education levels: Bernie’s best and Warren’s worst group was noncollege-educated men, while Warren’s best and Bernie’s worst group was college-educated women.

A narrow plurality for Sanders among voters otherwise supporting Warren would not have eliminated Biden’s margins in Minnesota (8.7 percent, with Warren winning 15.4 percent), Texas (4.5 percent, with Warren winning 11.4 percent), or probably even Massachusetts (6.9 percent, with Warren winning 21.4 percent). Maine (which Biden carried by 1.9 percent, with Warren winning 15.7 percent) is the one state where you can make a convincing case that Warren’s participation cost Sanders a win.

So as is often the case, Trump is just making stuff up and tossing it out on Twitter. That’s true also of his suggestion that unhappy Sanders supporters can find a happy home in a Republican Party that stands for the wealthy corporate interests that Bernie has fought his whole career, and led by the man Sanders routinely refers to (and did so again upon withdrawing from the race) as “the most dangerous president in modern American history.”

No, Warren Didn’t Rob Bernie of the Nomination