The Many Ways Sanders and Warren Are Different & Why It Matters

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (Mary Schwalm / Reuters)

One of the more likely outcomes of this season’s primary race is that either Warren or Sanders will be the nominee. Not because either will get a majority of first-ballot votes at the convention, though that’s possible, but because it’s entirely likely that one of the two of them will enter the convention with the greatest plurality.

If that occurs, all signs point to the “loser” of the two in the plurality contest adding his or her votes to the winner’s total, creating a classic “unity candidate” — and a dicey-to-overcome-with-superdelegates majority candidate — when the second round ballots are cast. It doesn’t matter whether they both finish above the rest, just so that one of them does.

To see how this works, let’s say Sanders enters the convention with 38% of the pledged delegates, Biden (or some other centrist somebody) enters with 30%, and Warren enters with 28% — made-up numbers for sure and not a prediction. If Warren tells her pledged delegates to vote for Sanders on the second round, Sanders will have 68% of the ballots (assuming the follow her lead), a total more than enough for Sanders to claim the nomination.

The same is true if they finish one-and-two and the delegate counts are close. Let’s say Warren enters the convention with 42% of the pledged delegates, Sanders enters with 40% (again, made up numbers), and the remaining 18% are split in various ways.

In that case, it makes sense for Warren to be the nominee with Sanders’ second-ballot support — which is how I’m sure Sanders will see it. Thus the alternative isn’t worth talking about — a fight between the two that would only open the door for superdelegates to do as much anti-progressive damage as they can.

Even if you think Warren is only halfway between Sanders and Biden on the progressive scale (domestic policy only; see below for her domestic policy), halfway is better than no way at all. It’s certain at least that Sanders will see it that way.

This is not to say that primary voters should be sanguine about the Sanders v. Warren contest. On the contrary, Sanders and Warren are not only not the same, but they are very different in striking and important ways — which means that it matters which of them enters the convention with the most delegates. And in my view, it matters a lot.

How Are Sanders and Warren Different? Counting the Ways.

The person who’s done the best job of laying out all the ways it does matter is Current Affairs contributing editor Eli Massey in a recent series of tweets. I want to extract what he wrote so his list can be put on one place. Here’s Massey’s opening tweet:

The following is his list, with links where he includes them (bolded emphasis mine, lightly edited for clarity and to correct errors):

1) Sanders supports national rent control, Warren does not.

2) Sanders has a plan to end homelessness in the U.S., Warren does not.

3) Sanders says there should be no billionaires, Warren says there should.

This one requires some discussion, but not for now. The issue is usually put as, “Should the hard-working retain their wealth? versus “Is a society with billionaires a fair or safe one for the rest of us?” — bypassing, of course, the question “How many billionaires earned their wealth in the first place?”

After all, as a wise man once wrote, “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.”

4) Sanders IDs as a Democratic Socialist, Warren is a “capitalist to [her] bones.”

5) Sanders was endorsed by 3/4 of the Squad (AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar), Warren by 1/4 (Ayanna Pressley).

6) Sanders voted against all of Trump’s military budgets, Warren voted for some.

7) Sanders called for former Brazilian President Lula da Silva to be freed from prison, Warren did not.

8) Sanders has a long, proven anti-war record, Warren does not. Article detailing some of the differences:

9) Sanders has called for cutting military aid to Israel and redirecting it to provide humanitarian assistance in Gaza, Warren has not.

10) Sanders has the superior environmental policy and approach to combating climate change. This article from @CarlBeijer gets at some of the differences:

11) Sanders will cancel all student debt, Warren will not.

12) Sanders will cancel all medical debt, Warren will not.

13) Sanders supports universal franchise, Warren was unwilling to commit.

14) Sanders calls for abolishing ICE, CBP, and USCIS, plus the full demilitarization of the border, Warren does not.

15) Sanders has made labor rights & growing unions a central part of his campaign in a way that Warren has not. Sanders has pledged to double the number of workers that belong to a union during his 1st term. Here’s an article detailing some of his labor plans:

On foreign policy, where the differences are massive, Massey adds:

Foreign policy and environmental policy alone are reason enough to back Sanders over Warren, given the monumental stakes for each.

Despite the understandable obsession with domestic policy, historically foreign policy is where presidents are able to do as they please, e.g., without oversight from congress. It is for this reason that I think foreign policy ought to be weighted significantly.

His conclusion: “I should add that I think Warren is the second least terrible viable presidential candidate, but her differences from Sanders are, in my opinion, significant.” I echo that.

My conclusion: The future of this country for the next generation will be written at the 2020 Democratic convention, either because the nominee chosen will be unable to defeat Donald Trump, or because the nominee chosen — Sanders, Warren or someone like Biden — will take the country down definably different paths, each of which will persist until the next great crisis, which is coming sooner than anyone admits.

These are urgent times. Two violent tsunamis — extreme climate disruption, which has already started; populist revolt against bipartisan neoliberal rule, which almost brought us Sanders and did bring us Trump — are already misting our faces. We may have just one more shot at getting the whole thing right.

Getting the whole thing half-right may be better in the short term than getting it entirely wrong, but our grandchildren won’t praise us for saving our own futures at the expense of theirs.

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  1. Norm de plume

    1 Sanders
    2 Daylight – a great yawning chasm full of it
    3 Warren
    4 the rest
    5 The Donald
    6 Hillary

    1. dcrane

      Gabbard’s continuing sharp criticisms of America’s regime change wars should have her on this list, perhaps above all of the rest if we focused exclusively on foreign policy (yet note how pulling back militarily frees up space for domestic policy, in terms of both money and political oxygen). I hope that Sanders would also fight to substantially roll back the machine, but his rhetoric is not as brave.

      1. Norm de plume

        Forgot Tulsi, sorry. I am in Sydney, my brains scrambled by heat, smoke and leaders who scoff at the idea climate change is involved.

        She nudges Warren down the pecking order. Sanders/Gabbard would be the dream ticket. For all the rest of us almost as much as Americans. Their strengths are complementary.

      2. Jeremy

        Tulsi’s foreign policy has some brave stances esp on Syria and Venezuela, but overall it ain’t half as good as Bernie Sanders’, sorry. The question is what values are driving your foreign policy – America-first isolationism, or global solidarity against the oligarchs everywhere? Look, I’d gladly take isolationism over Clintonian liberal interventionism, but not when something better’s on the table.

        The value differences really show up in policy differences once you spot the pattern. Contrast the following with Bernie. Tulsi:
        Silent on freeing Lula.
        Silent on Bolivia.
        She opposed the Iran deal (until the eleventh hour when the votes no longer mattered).
        She showed up to Bibi’s speech when so many Democrats astonishingly found the courage to boycott.
        She correctly opposed the recent Turkish invasion of Syria, and even correctly called out Turkey for instrumentalizing jihadis in Syria. Great! But her full comment made it clear that she really had a bizzare interpretive framework, she has no idea what is actually happening in Turkey. She is blinded by seeing the world though a “clash of civilizations” framework. (The invasion isn’t about Erdogan setting up a “caliphate” ffs).
        Voted to condemn BDS.

        I could go on. It’s frustrating because she comes out with sharp incisive criticism of the blob but at the end of the day, she’s not operating from really progressive values. She’s just better than 99% of Democrats.

        1. Hepativore

          I generally like Tulsi Gabbard, but there was her hesitancy to condemn torture as carried out under a “ticking bomb scenario” and I am not sure if she has evolved on that position since, like she did with her stance on homosexuality.

          For me, the thing that caused me to withdraw my support for Tulsi Gabbard is when we found out that she will not support Medicare For All. This is probably one of the most important issues in the Democratic primary, if not the most important. The fact that she does not want a Medicare For All healthcare system is something that I feel cannot be compromised on and is a must for any Democratic presidential candidate. This leaves Sanders as being the only supporter of Medicare For All. Warren’s proposed system is inferior at best, and regardless of what she says now or how good her proposal is. Elizabeth Warren will probably abandon every single one of her policies the moment she gets any sort of pushback from the bipartisan Washington Consensus.

        2. Ames Gilbert

          IMO, your points against Tulsi are not that significant compared to her unyielding stance against foreign interventions. If the U.S. stops waging wars against any nations that do not bend the knee, and stops the futile attempts to be ‘the world’s policeman’ and imposing ‘democracy’ at the point of a gun, then pretty much everything else falls into place. If that is all she accomplished, that would be a complete reversal of 20th to 21st century U.S. foreign policy. Just as the empire building and never–ending wars have come home to poison our domestic tranquility, so would reversing those mistakes also come home and allow the needed change in our domestic priorities. And if that is all she accomplished, the money saved alone would allow her successors a great start to re–ordering our society in the most important ways.

          1. Carey

            All good points, and I like what Gabbard says on FP, but I dunno..
            something feels manufactured, though I could be very wrong.

            1. samhill

              We now live in an pervasively manufactured system it’s very hard to tell the sincerity of those who were formalised in it. Bernie is spared as he was formed before it all turned plastic. If Presidents affect the culture – JFK, Reagan, among other things Sanders may improve is the general culture, and we’ll all start straight talking with a Brooklyn accent.

    2. oliverks

      One of the things I like about Warren, is she knows more about how finance works that anyone else I know, except perhaps Yves (I have actually met Yves at a meet up, so I kind of know her).

      I am concerned that they (bankers) may be able to pull the wool over Bernie’s eyes. If we are heading for a financial crisis, wouldn’t Warren be the stronger candidate?

      1. lambert strether

        Sanders knows who his enemies are. Warren doesn’t. If anyone is going to have the wool pulled over their eyes, it’s Warren. Remember how Trump got inside Warren’s head and she got a genetic test without checking with the Cherokees that tribal membership was by blood? Highly unlikely any billionairenwill get inside Sanders’ head

        1. oliverks

          The problem with a crisis is you need to make decisions quickly. If you know the lay of the land, you have a big advantage. If you don’t, you can get all twisted around by people who do.

          It seems to me that Warren knows finance really well. Bernie seems weak in this regard. Of course there might be no financial crisis, and so that skill set might not be needed. However, I personally think we may have a major crisis in the next 4-8 years.

          I agree that Bernie is pretty immune to regular politics. I also like that he has been singing the same tune forever. You truly believe what you are getting with him.

          1. Pat

            And I see Sanders knowing you can’t trust Larry Summers in a financial crisis and Warren thinking she can even after her experience during the Obama administration. Club Rubin would need to make a few more nods toward good governance, but ultimately her technocratic nature and need to save capitalism would opt for their experience.

            1. mle detroit

              Exactly, Pat. I think she’d be another Obama in this regard. Bernie (a) has Stephanie Kelton & Co. and (b) stays the course.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            With all due respect, Warren does not. She understands bankruptcy, which gives her some insight into private equity, and consumer finance. She does not understand capital markets, the payment system, asset management ex what she has picked up from private equity BK abuses, or wholesale banking, which is where the action is in finance. She’s a law prof.

            For instance, Sanders’ wealth tax plan was slightly less unrealistic than Warren’s on the enforcement side. Sanders at least didn’t labor under the delusion that Warren astonishingly published, that she could get the IRS to get foreign governments to go after non-US-held wealth. That is just ludicrous. Sanders also called for more beefing up of the IRS.

            Need I remind you that the IRS sits in the Treasury?

      2. T

        Have you read any tax or accounting reviews of any Bernie bills? (Tax Policy Center work from 2016 likely still online.)

        I think, on another note, that Warren’s quickness to crawfish and weasel shows she’s willing to pull the wool over her own eyes. Moving away from and obscuring your target- assuming you truly have one – is as bad or worse than being redirected by bankers, or hedge funds, or Walton heirs.

      3. HotFlash

        Warren’s a technocrat and a micro-manager. So, put her in Treasury or something (although I’d much rather someone like Yves or Stephanie K.) Warren has no idea of how to persuade congress, which is where the rubber meets the road (or doesn’t). Bernie has explained that if he is elected, any Dems in who Congress don’t support the platform that voters voted him in on will be embarrassed by him staging rallies in their district and, push-to-shove, him supporting a candidate to primary them. The man knows how to govern.

        DId JFK have a plan to get to the moon? Did LBJ have a plan for Medicare? No, they just articulated the vision, gave the order and *bam*, the government apparatus — civil servants and political appointees — made it happen. Medicare was instuted in six months. Ms Warren is a worker-bee, not a visionary, and what the American people need most is a visionary. And they’ll will elect one, the choice is Trump or Bernie.

        1. Will S.

          Kelton for Treasury or Fed definitely, Warren would be great as SEC chair (or maybe heading her brainchild the CFPB) but I don’t think she has the macro fundamentals to head either of those agencies. Gabbard for Secretary of Defense. Nina Turner for VP, to keep the oligarchs scared & maybe the side chance of picking up some of the older black voters who aren’t feeling the Bern yet.

          ??? for:

          Anyone else wanting to play a game of “Fill That Cabinet!” please round out my ignorance! Maybe we can forward the list on to Katie Halper to give to Uncle Bernie.

          1. Shonde

            Keith Ellison, current MN attorney general and former MN US representative. Bernie supporter in 2016 and now. For Attorney General

          2. norm de plume

            I like those games, I’m a list-maker from way back. On the basis of who would you want (rather than who do you think would pass muster) my first draft of a team:



            Larry Wilkerson


            Nat Sec/Intel (NSA/CIA/FBI)
            Thomas Drake with Binney NSA, Kyriacou CIA, ? FBI)

            Foreign Service
            John Brady Kiesling



            Bill Black




            Diane Ravitch (prob too old, but she is the anti-Betsy)

            Dunno about these:

            Homeland Security

            An equally interesting exercise would be a poll on who would be the absolute worst picks in these roles…

            1. Shonde

              How about Hudson for Treasury instead of Kelton? I can just see the heads of the evangelical right explode when Hudson quotes biblical history as he explains why Bernie is proclaiming a Jubilee Year for all medical and student debt and usury debt. We can save Kelton for the head of the Council of Economic Advisors.

              1. norm de plume

                Hudson has the Diane Ravitch issue – he’s 80+ – but people like them (and Chomsky and Ray McGovern and Daniel Ellsberg and Wendell Berry and loads of others) could constitute a Council of Elders, whose pronouncements would be available on a sidebar on every govt website if it proved impossible to force the media to run them)

                Gail Tverberg for energy? Naomi Klein for Environment?

                Getting carried away, sorry…

              1. Carey


                Get that group, and the nurses’ union, and the public school teachers, and you’ve got yourself some pull with the People.

            2. hunkerdown

              AOC can’t VP, too young. Chief of Staff wouldn’t surprise me, though. It’ll be great to have the aristocrats being yelled at and fired like the lazy barbacks they are.

            3. Toni

              Loved your post.
              Abolish Homeland Security which isn’t about security at all.
              Stacey Abrams belongs in there somewhere.
              I don’t love Robert Reich but he’s got experience mileage and heart may be in the right place now.
              Jill Stein belongs in there, too.
              Jay Inslee—Energy?

      4. deplorado

        Do you mean to suggest that in a crisis, we need not a political but a technocratic solution? Like TBTF?
        That we should prefer the wonky technocrat Warren who gesticulates nicely against the bankers to Bernie — who might be in over his head when the smart finance types enter the room? Because he might not understand all those derivatives they juggle between each other?

        You can’t be serious…

    3. jrs

      Some of these like national rent control seem like really bad ideas though. I don’t even think rent control is the full solution for California which has an actual housing crisis (yea more housing probably needs to be built period, that’s almost consensus at this point, and probably some government housing too), and that a California solution should be extrapolated as the solution for Kansas or Detroit is just … although other places haven’t been building enough either. Healthcare is similar everywhere, but very different housing markets.

      I’ll take the good with the bad though. NONE of this is EVER going anywhere unless we get a Dem Senate anyway so it’s mostly irrelevant (and why aren’t we talking more about getting a Dem Senate?), but we might get good staffing and executive orders. We need a fighter, that’s Sanders.

      1. Jack

        jrs, have to disagree with you on some points. One, I think you should read Sanders Housing for All proposal in detail. It is not just a “rent control” program like they have in NYC where what landlords can charge for rent is limited. Rather, it is a very broad scope program which includes building much more affordable housing, fully funding the Section 8 rental assistance program, doing away with the states ability to forbid local communities from instituting rent controls, strengthen the anti-eviction laws and provide counsel, and more. As far as control of the Senate is concerned, even without the Dems control any President can do a LOT just by enforcing the rules that are in place now and by use of Executive orders, never mind the bully pulpit. I can really see Sanders taking it to the streets if the Senate, or even the Dem House, gets in his way.Trump is a con man who could care less about the little guy and his cabinet and executive decisions reflect that. Obama is and was a con man as well. That is why the beltway elites and Wall Street are scared to death of Sanders. They know what an progressively active Prez can accomplish.

    4. Wat

      Something about Warren just seems weak. “I’m Elizabeth Warren, I know what’s wrong, I know how to fix it, and I’ll fight to get it done.” (Although she might not get it done.) She knows how to fix this problem, but leaves herself an out in case she turns out to be naive again.

  2. Lambert Strether

    16) Sanders’ theory of change: The power of a movement; Warren’s theory of change: insider negotiation and conciliation “at the table.”

    Of course, all theories must survive testing…

    1. dcrane

      The first two years of a Sanders first term would have to be spent substantially on the campaign trail, to take back Congress. If that was successful, real change (beyond executive orders and appointments) could begin in earnest in the second half. (I assume that the infuriated corporate Dems would #resist Sanders even more so than Trump, so negotiation/compromise would likely not go far unless he was willing to back down from his promises.)

      1. Joe Well

        Thanks to the Imperial Presidency, he could scale back Forever Wars (earning enormous popularity) and make progress on many of his domestic policies especially regarding household debt, without ever going to Congress.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          A reasonable assertion, but just how Imperial is the Presidency? Granted, Congress has abrogated it’s role, particularly in foreign policy, but the MIC, to metnion just one non elected entity, has not and that seems to show in the difference between what Trump keeps saying, “We’re getting out…” and what actually happens.

          That’s nothing against either Sanders or Warren, but it’s a reality either will have to deal with.

          Much as I don’t want an economic collapse as in 2007-8, it, or something like it, might go a long way toward helping either of them overcome the enormous inertia of our corrupt capitalist system.

          1. Joe Well

            Look at how many fewer invasions we have had under Trump. No Libya-type attacks. Now imagine Sanders in there.

            I don’t expect base closures, just a quieting down.

        2. John Wright

          He will run into the same think-tank, War (defense) department, State Department and MSM media pushback that Trump sees whenever he mentions pulling troops back.

          Well-paid MIC jobs MUST be preserved, and Bernie would see an army of well credentialed white collar professionals, left and right, united against any efforts to scale back the Forever Wars.

          Maybe Bernie can learn from Trump’s experience.

          1. hunkerdown

            Perhaps they can be bought off with a reconstruction contract for the bombed-out, decrepit third-world USA. Those that can’t, we have to make their lives harder.

          2. The Historian

            I don’t necessarily think that will be the case. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are two very different people. I don’t think anyone can honestly say with a straight face that Donald Trump understood domestic or foreign policy when he came into office, and at the time, I don’t even think he cared about it. I still don’t think he has any sort of plan of how he wants the US to work in the future, i.e., he is still flying by the seat of his pants on most issues. He let others choose his Secretaries and advisors for him and I think he is still doing that, as evidenced by the rapid turnover in these positions.

            Bernie, on the other hand, knows how government works and has strong views on how he wants this country to move into the future. I don’t think he’s going to leave the choice of his policy makers up to the whims of his backers. I don’t think he is going to make Trump’s mistakes.

            Of course, Bernie isn’t going to end our Forever Wars immediately, but I think he is savvy enough to know that he can’t do that. If the US was to pull out of everywhere it has troops today , there would be a severe power vacuum in some of these areas and I can guarantee you that someone – and not the people of these areas – will take control. Will that make for a safer world? Power has to be dismantled carefully and that will take time, and yes, it will be difficult for Bernie, but I think he’s up to the task.

            1. norm de plume

              ‘there would be a severe power vacuum in some of these areas and I can guarantee you that someone – and not the people of these areas – will take control’

              100%. Although the ‘someone’ could be from those areas, just that it is more likely to be among the worst options available, viz the Nazis and Bolsheviks entering power vacuums left by the collapse of empires and the inability of the new liberal democracies to gain any traction and legitimacy soon enough to put down roots. Also Rome, too many times to mention, had an imperial vacancy and no legitimate heir, leading to some of their worst monsters (though, to be fair, many were also to the purple born)

  3. kimyo

    it’s hard to see how a ‘theory of change’ candidate could find himself endorsing clinton in 2016.

    no one person did more to put clinton on the ballot than sanders. right from the start with ‘people are sick of hearing about your damn emails’. and right up to selling out his supporters by failing to warn them about ‘provisional’ (ie: placebo) ballots in california. either he knew, and is therefore complicit. or, he didn’t, and is thus unworthy of a leadership role.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to sound annoyed, but could you please stop beating this dead horse?

      Sanders agreed as a condition of running on the Dem ticket that he would endorse the winner if he lost. I’m not going to waste my time posting links I have posted before on this topic repeatedly showing that Sanders’ endorsement was not fast in coming and he campaigned more versus Trump than for her. For instance, the New Yorker highlights one of the differences between Clinton and Trump that Sanders touted: “She believes in science”. That is not a ringing endorsement.

          1. kimyo

            keeping your word with an organization which just committed massive election fraud against you is not honorable. it is a sign that you suffer from stockholm syndrome.

            a ‘mark of character’ would have been putting his supporters first.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              We differ. In addition to honorable, I viewed his acquiescence as expedient. I doubt he would be running as a candidate in the Democratic Party right now had he not honored his agreement — even though it were an agreement ” with an organization which just committed massive election fraud against” him.

              1. Toni

                I see everyone’s points, but somewhere deep inside, I still suspect that some ugly coercion was applied, too, to Bernie.

                And yeah, I agree with Yves Smith: it’s time to let this one go…unless we see signs of a replay coming.

            2. hunkerdown

              Legally binding contract with the DNC.

              Also, the Presidency is not a Wheaties box. Machiavellian behavior and obliquity are given. The question is whether it works for the 90% or not.

    2. lambert strether

      I know it’s hard to let go of cherished grievances, but this is a little over the top. Sanders keeping his word in 2016 was the price of admission for 2020. The only alternative is third party, which (a) is very difficult, pace the GP, and (b) ignores the fact that Democrats are going to have to be assaulted from within in any case, and there’s nobody around to do that, either.

    3. Bill Carson

      I hesitate to legitimize kimyo’s comment with a reply, but I think Sanders’ statement that “the people are tired of hearing about your damn emails” was misconstrued by the media from the start. I interpreted his remark as a chastisement of her for her refusal to respond to inquiries in an open and forthright manner.

  4. thoughtful person

    What do you think Warren’s backers will think of her asking her delegates to support Sanders? (She’ll get the same treatment as Gabbard and likely worse in the media). As I don’t think Warren is planning to retire just yet, this scenario is not going to happen.

    1. ptb

      is she gonna ask them to vote for Biden? I don’t think so. I would be more concerned about delegates being bribed to break ranks during the coalition building phase.

      By the way i think the coalition can happen on the first ballot, so no superdelegates at all! Say Warren (or whoever is in the lower place in a hypothetical DNC coalition) decides to “release” their delegates, i.e. similar to dropping out at the last minute? those no-longer-bound delegates would in good conscience then follow her request that they join forces with the allied candidate she specifies. i.e on the first ballot.

      I would expect some DNC skulduggery right then.

      My analysis here is that having Sanders as the #2 would actually be lower risk, since I’d say Sanders delegates are the most deeply committed progressives.

      That said I would still much rather have him as the nominee and would take chances on a small % of Warren delegates being bought.

      1. hunkerdown

        Progressives? No. Sanders delegates are likely to be social democrats and leftists, neither of whom have any use for being strung along by a Party that lies, cheats and steals to get paid. Also, if he’s too old to be President, he’s surely too old to be VP, in the eyes of the establishment.

        She could just as well ask them to nominate Hillary or some other Wheaties Box-ticking identity group member. She could very well ask her supporters to go Biden. They would follow along, because the PMC are interested almost exclusively in their self-actualization as a corporation: protecting their “growth” in the career market and protecting their “brand” as sensitive new age “leaders”.

        1. Phemfrog

          I can totally see her asking her supporters to go to Biden, especially if he is even a tiny bit ahead.

          This probably just shows my cynicism (learned my lesson with Obama…actions speak louder than words).

        2. Left in Wisconsin

          I think Warren as nominee would be more likely to pick someone like Mayor Pete as VP – “strong” on national defense, attract those moderate voters… and millennials!, ticks more id pol boxes. I’m not convinced if she comes in behind Bernie and Biden (or replacement) that she would encourage her supporters to support Bernie. And I’m even less sure her supporters would. I get the sense from the ones I talk to that Mimi Rocah-like “skin crawling” is widespread among Warren’s base.

          1. Fern

            There’s no reason for Warren to nominate one of the current candidates for VP if she gets the nomination. Buttigieg has no proven record in a swing state. He was a small town mayor in a Democratic elite university town that has more in common with other university towns on the coasts than it does with the average swing state town. He did try to run for an Indiana statewide office once, and got nowhere.

            I see her nominating someone like Sherrod Brown. He’s experienced, he hasn’t been sullied by the primary campaign and he has the best proven track record in the swing states. He would have had trouble in the Democratic primary due to his stance on gun control, but that same record would be VERY helpful in the general election.

    2. John k

      I’m not sure capitalist to her bones really wants to endorse sanders over biden, she didnt given a similar choice in 2016, she probably thinks he’s too far left, has already been pushed further than she likes.

      Otoh, she might be his strongest running mate, and what better position could she get with Biden? Well then, who best beats trump? Imagine Biden holds a narrow delegate lead as progressives remain split, say 34-32-30… By the time these questions come up it will be known who does best in the swings. In a close race 8 states will pick the pres… And this should have a lot of influence on who gets the top of the ticket… even among those of her older supporters that prefer Biden to sanders.

      Another possibility is biden flames out, sanders has narrow lead, say 46-44. Might she think enough supers would support her on the second? Certainly they might. Sanders needs either 51% or at least a strong lead.
      I see her endorsing if third in a tight 3- way, but not a tight 2- way.

    3. Carey

      It’s not supposed™ to go that way: this is about making sure Sanders delegates support this year’s Obama / Bubba.

      no thanks

  5. Joe Well

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I am going to copy and paste it directly when asked about this.

    A reason left out: Bernie’s supporters really are supporting radical change and will hold his feet to the fire, unlike Liz.

    Look at the social media activity of Warren supporters. Here is what I see: a desire to reform rather than revolutionaize across the board (including the Democratic Party); older wealthy white woman identity politics; an almost identitatian desire to be left of center but not the most left (allowing Bernie to set the entire campaign parameters), which is usually couched as “realism”; credentialist arguments that overlook Bernie’s greater legislative record because it isn’t really about qualifications but class (e.g., Harvard); support for military industrial complex; and very little talk of canvassing or any voter outreach, very much politics as TV.

    1. divadab

      YES ! And if Warren’s supporters are the same crew that supported Hillary in 2016, and totally demonized anyone who dared criticise her corrupt warmongering ways, they will not let Warren concede to Bernie.

      Fascinating process…….so inefficient, such a waste of time and energy for largely symbolic results…..and so far from the actual election.

      Plato’s cave has many walls……

    1. John Mc

      And a few financial advocacy bona fides… She’s professorial and has navigated top neoliberal institutions to get to this position, which mirrors the very same neoliberalism many progressives aim to conquer with Bernie. But, comparing her though to the vacuous Clintonian wing, I think misses the battles she has fought against the very same corruption. When has Hilliary every called for more regulation — isn’t deregulation and privatization from the so-called left her thing?

      Is she a progressive panacea? Not in the slightest, more risk of Obama-like reversion to the middle — but comparing Warren and Clinton (I see Warren as preparing her entire life for this position even if her “plans” are unrealistic or unpopular (see her healthcare plan proposal), and the other Clinton using power, influence and corruption to achieve objectives)…

      I could be wrong, but Elizabeth Warren is not the enemy, like Clinton for me, but could she turn into one, is the real question. Bernie is who he is (sorry for the horrible cliche); he’s not changing. Warren might feel like she has to, to survive —- another reason why there are some differences between the two.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I have trouble making an equation between Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton. My impression of Hillary Clinton is that she is a truly horrible person and would have been a ruthless President. I don’t feel the same of Warren. However, I believe Elizabeth Warren comes from the same ‘new’ Democrat school of economics as the Clintons — just a slightly different less astringent flavor. I also regard Warren as more talk than action; fear she would be relatively ineffectual at accomplishing her policies; and believe she would be a little too willing to make accommodations to the ‘loyal opposition’. [I listened to Autrailia’s Julia Gillard dismantle the ‘loyal opposition’ last night in the clip Lambert referenced a few days ago. WOW! Elizabeth Warren is no Julia Gillard.]

    1. jrs

      Possible, possible every possible candidate that Dems could run result in that. Why do you see it as more likely with Sanders or Warren than anyone else? Because they are too “extreme”? Yea well, that could be, it would be if this was 50 years ago and Sanders was McGovern, it’s a Boomer perspective IOW, however it’s the year 2020 and most voters weren’t even alive then. And I’m not even convinced most people vote primarily on policy at all.

      Sanders is a straight white male and contrary to whatever Dems believe that is a positive in getting elected regardless of if you are Biden or Sanders or even 3rd tier. Is the country ready for a women or a gay guy?

      I want that recession now just to get rid of Trump, that’s cruel but .. so much destruction with him.

      1. tegnost

        I think a recession before the election leads to bernie because the gov will be back to picking winners again and people will be incensed if there’s another bailout of the usual suspects. That is also why a recession is very unlikely, probably be saved for after the election as the reason why we still can’t have nice things

  6. Brooklin Bridge

    Great list! I too am copying this down to share with others.

    While Sanders has amply proven himself such that he would almost certainly follow this projection of adding his votes to those of Warren, in the reverse, Warren leaves a question mark hovering over her. I don’t understand the process very well, but in terms of personality, wouldn’t rely on Warren to support such a progressive platform unless there was little choice in the matter. In other words, if there is a way to wiggle out I think Warren would find it.

    1. ptb

      Because together they will have a solid majority of DNC delegates.

      Separately, Biden likely becomes the nominee.

      Of course a Warren Biden ticket is possible, but it throws away Biden’s GE claim of being Republican friendly and throws away Warren’s GE claim of everything because letting Biden into the White House House will mix Warren’s plans… so it would not be credible. And they would totally lack the new-voter-turnout power of Sanders.

      I.e. a Warren-Biden ticket gives us Trump, IMO. whereas both Biden and Sanders have an argument as to how they win the GE. (i find Sanders’ way far more convincing)

      1. a different chris

        > but it throws away Biden’s GE claim of being Republican friendly and throws away Warren’s GE claim of everything

        Like Biden even really cares. He just wants to be Pres Joe. And if Warren accepts being his VP – and I don’t find that at all unlikely – that will unfortunately prove that she doesn’t care a whole lot either. VP is a stepping stone to the Presidency, supposedly, and we can tell by Warren’s proposals that she doesn’t mind waiting (unlike people with, say, “access” to cancer care they can’t use).

        Presidential elections are referendums on the incumbent. If that turns out badly for The Donald, and I expect it will:

        I will vote for Warren, signalling that she has said some part of the right things, if she is the nominee. And then I will hold my breath. I would of course be proud to vote for Sanders, but I will wonder if the Dem establishment will sabotage him as President in a way they wouldn’t Warren. That is, we are in deep (family blog) and I don’t know if, in fact doubt that, Warren’s movement in the right direction* will be enough to stave off the worst of it, But Sanders being completely blocked by TPTB would mean no chance at all.

        I won’t vote for Biden. Or Harris. Or Buttigieg. Or really anybody else but Gabbard, and she ain’t gonna be the nominee. I will signal left as usual, for all the good it does, with a Green Party vote.

        *And to be fair, she has been moving leftward her whole life.

        1. ptb

          > I would of course be proud to vote for Sanders, but I will wonder if the Dem establishment will sabotage him as President in a way they wouldn’t Warren.

          If that’s how you feel, why not just vote for him then? Would a Warren-Sanders ticket really get establishment support that a Sanders-Warren ticket wouldn’t? (i.e. from big$ that is pro-status-quo on m4a, wealth gap etc).

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Warren was explicit she wanted to be Clinton’s veep. So she had big time-incentives then.

      Not clear what she would do in 2020. She might play cute and allow them to “vote their own consciences”. She’s too old to be anyone’s veep now.

      1. John k

        If she wants treasury, and I think she does, she would endorse. If she doesn’t she won’t get anything.
        She would prefer veep, especially given sanders and Biden’s age.
        The question is, who would be a stronger for Bernie? Tulsi not getting traction even if he thought she’s progressive enough, AOC too young. If not warren would have to be rust belt, or maybe fl.
        Governor, past or present, or in congress.

          1. Darius

            Hillary wanted to keep Tulsi’s balloon in the air to distract from Sanders and to a lesser extent Warren. It has been a spectacular success.

  7. Bill Carson

    I expect that Elizabeth “Dances with Wall Street” Warren will get trounced by Trump. The same may be true of Sanders, but I think he has a better chance because he can motivate the people to get to the polls. I think the insurmountable obstacle may be in convincing the Biden Bros. to vote for either of them.

    1. a different chris

      “Trounced”?? Seriously? The guy has squeaked by his whole life. Just because the rewards were huge compared to us mortals (and how many times did he declare bankruptcy?) doesn’t mean he’s very gifted. Just his coin mostly came up heads on really big bets.

      But yes he may win again, in pretty much the same way as before. I wouldn’t argue that.

        1. Carey

          >For every right wing dem that stays home sanders will get two republicans dying for m4a.

          Now *that* is well said. What goes around, comes around.

  8. Michael Hudson

    Wait a minute. What of Super-Delegates after Round 1?
    they will oppose both Sanders AND Warren. (Will Bloomberg slip in with 1% of Georgia or wherever?)

    If that DOES happen, can Sanders say, “Yes, I said that I would support the Democratic candidate. But I meant the Democrat PARTY, not the DNC. They’re not the real democrats. WE are, and I’m running as one.”
    Then, sue the states (and lose, I know) for who has the rights to the Democratic line on the ballot.

    1. ptb

      2 responses.

      (1) make coalition in first round, before supers come in

      (2) last I checked, superdelegates are about 15% of delegates. In a 3-way delegate situation (i.e., the 2nd tier candidates getting none due to 15% threshold), Sanders + Warren are already quite close to exceeding Biden + super. It would take something like 30:22:22 = biden:sanders:warren, in delegates going into DNC. lotta fine print however…

      article on what is the magic number for DNC:

  9. John

    I find it interesting how deeply the corporate media narrative about Bernie has gotten into peoples heads.
    1. That eccentric grumpy old white man doesn’t exist.
    2. And even if he does exist, he’s not electable.
    3. Only look at the optics and never consider any of the candidates’ policy proposals.

    I work from home and listened to Thom Hartmann’s Brunch with Bernie every Friday for 12 years. That was a breath of sanity during the crazy of the Bush years and disappointment of the Obama years.
    A lot of those hour talks are available and worth listening to.

    1. Phemfrog

      i listened to those too. thats why i trust and support him. unflinching convictions for years. no BS. Thom H. was good back then.

  10. R

    it’s a risky assumption that Warren will back Bernie over Biden if it’s a brokered convention.

    If Biden, or another centrist, comes in with the highest individual vote, but not a majority, and the ‘left’ vote is split by Bernie and Warren, Warren will back Biden IMO.

    She’s not going to rattle the party for Bernie, any more than she did with her lack of an endorsement in 2016.

    Short of winning an outright majority of delegates I don’t see Bernie winning the nomination – the DNC absolutely hate him and will make the Labour Party UK splits around Corbyn seem tame if he actually threatens to take power.

    There are two ways it can go with Warren – she’s either a spoiler for Bernie to win the nom, or a loser to Trump if she or Biden gets the nom.

    Bernie is the only option. Steer clear of Warren, she’s a snake, and a bit of a flake.

  11. Carolinian

    Sanders has a long, proven anti-war record,

    He supported Bill Clinton’s Kosovo intervention and also said “Assad must go” while also saying he “certainly doesn’t support” regime change. He seems to be onboard with the Russia as villain narrative and was tepid at best on Venezuela and hostile to its government. He has criticized Israel but Sanders saying anything at all about foreign policy seems to be a rather recent development. Trying to use FP as one of his big selling points isn’t that convincing.

    Surely the biggest argument for Sanders is that he would upset the Dem apple cart and Warren wouldn’t. Of course this is also the reason they will do anything to block him.

    1. John k

      I supported the balkans intervention as reasonable use of force given the Europeans were unable to police their own backyard… an intervention that protected Muslims against Christians.
      Not supporting regime change supports Assad by default. Or Maduro. I can happily live with that approach.
      More than criticizing Israel, he’s supported the Palestinians… would be seen by them as an honest broker.
      IMO he’s by far the best candidate.

  12. Quite Likely

    This math does not add up “To see how this works, let’s say Sanders enters the convention with 38% of the pledged delegates, Biden (or some other centrist somebody) enters with 30%, and Warren enters with 28% — made-up numbers for sure and not a prediction. If Warren tells her pledged delegates to vote for Sanders on the second round, Sanders will have 68% of the ballots (assuming the follow her lead), a total more than enough for Sanders to claim the nomination.”

    38 + 28 = 66.

  13. Jeremy Grimm

    I will vote for Bernie Sanders whether the Democratic Convention selects him as the Democratic Candidate or not. I will write Bernie’s name in — exactly as it appears on the primary ballot. [I hope he will pick an excellent candidate for Vice President. Eight years of Bernie will only get the ball rolling and there is so very much badly in need of repair.]

    1. HotFlash

      This is not even a run to the left, it is not even a fake. Ms Warren, a ‘capitalist to her bones’, is getting credit for leftish things she never even said. As with Obama, it is tempting to paint her as who we would wish her to be than what she is, by her own word and record.

      Similar Tulsi Gabbard, who pacifists see as a kindred spirit, when she is clearly only for ending *some* wars, specifically the ‘regime change’ ones. Her stance on BDS, for instance? Not progressive. Connecting the dots, I think she is more a libertarian-style nationalist, so perhaps regime change is a do-not-do-to others situation.

      In the end, I think what we will get as president is the *person* we elect, and the only person who I think has the best interests of the country at heart and the governing skills to make it happen is Bernie.

      1. jrs

        Sanders has the most generous immigration plan of any major candidate, the most amnesties etc.. But not a single major Dem candidate who is running has gone on record for open borders (I doubt any minor ones have either actually but too many nobodies to keep track). I wonder if the term is even defined or has just become a propaganda term.

        1. Carey

          >Sanders has the most generous immigration plan of any major candidate

          How is “generous” being defined, here? When the USian people have
          their basic needs generally met- jobs, healthcare, lack of everyday precarity-, I’ll be feeling a little more generous about accepting yet more immigration.

      2. Grumpy Engineer

        Yes. I’ve also heard that Sanders doesn’t support open borders, but “abolishing ICE, CBP, and USCIS, plus the full demilitarization of the border” sounds like the complete wish list of many open border advocates. I went to his website to see if there was any description of the intended replacements for today’s border control agencies or a description of how border control would be handled in the future, but there was nothing listed on the subject matter at all. A curious omission.

  14. Jeff W

    17) Sanders has advocated for the same progressive goals (e.g., single payer health care) for half a century; Warren was a “diehard conservative” who has changed her positions for the wrong reasons (“I really thought that [the GOP] was a party that was principled in its conservative approach to economics and to markets and I feel like the GOP party just left that”) or only when it became absolutely politically expedient to do so (e.g., supporting Medicare-for-All in recent months).

    18) Sanders has never taken and will not take money from big donors; Warren has and will continue to raise money from millionaires and billionaires for the DNC, a signal from her to the party élite that it’s “business as usual” in DC.

    19) Sanders understands “systemic change”; Warren, “capitalist to her bones,”—whose model of policy is the regulatory framework of CFPB, hardly an example of “systemic change”—does not.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I am not sure what point you are making with your comment. Maybe I’m just a little slow today. What opinion are you presenting?

      1. Jeff W

        Given Sanders’s history and funding sources, he seems more likely to follow through on his stated policy positions than does Warren. He understands “big, systemic change,” while Warren, who mentions it a lot, appears not to.

        The stated policy positions, while informative, might matter less than Sanders’s and Warren’s orientations towards and commitments to fundamental change. With regard to working to bring about fundamental change, Sanders seems like the stronger candidate to me.

  15. Tim

    Sanders for the win, Warren for the moral victory.

    I mean that in the sense of this article and in the sense of the general election. Maybe it’s because she was a traitor to them, but the right hates her and will come to the polls to make sure she doesn’t win.

  16. Fern

    The issue is not Warren’s platform; it’s whether you trust her at all.

    She has a right-wing Reaganomics Republican past that she hasn’t been entirely upfront about and there are indications that she has retained much of this orientation. My question is: Is she a somewhat less progressive version of Bernie, or is she an opportunist who will revert to her right-wing roots when in office?

    A few striking indications that her liberal “conversion” is more opportunistic than real:

    1) She claims that she converted to liberalism after attending bankruptcy courts in the mid-80’s. Yet in 1991, she gave a talk to the Federalist Society during which she rolled her eyes at the “pensions you wouldn’t believe” that workers won during the 70’s and 80’s, implied that many bankruptcies were caused by excessively high workers’ pensions (not management pensions) and said that bankruptcy was a good institution because it kept the government from “socializing” these pension losses.

    2) She switched her voter registration from Republican to Democrat around 1996/97, yet in 2003 she denigrated strong social safety nets and wrote that we don’t need “quasi-socialist safety nets” along the “European model”.

    “The Two Income Trap” Kindle version, p. 94, location 1868

    3) A few weeks ago, when asked point blank if she supported public ownership of utility companies, she said: “Gosh, you know, I’m not sure that that’s what gets you to the solution”.

    These are pretty big issues — workers pensions, strong social safety nets and public ownership of utilities. Warren vacillated on single-payer health until it was clear that it was a litmus-test issue for progressives. My question is not whether she is as progressive as Bernie on domestic issues (I expect her to be as bad as any neocon on foreign policy), but whether she will carry through on any of her progressive campaign promises when in office.

    1. John k

      She explained her position clearly: m4a is a long term goal. Said it seven times just in case you missed the first six.
      In the long run we’re all dead.
      Until I get a definition of what long term means to her that is acceptable to me – top priority in my first year – I will assume she is as progressive as Obama.
      In fact, I think she is a white, female Obama, which exactly appeals to quite a few older, female dems.

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