NBC News/Wall Street Journal Present 'The Mystery Of The Vanishing Elizabeth Warren'
NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll Tuesday showing Bernie Sanders with a double digit lead over Joe Biden, who's effectively tied for second place with Mike Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, and Elizabeth Warren. Biden, whose campaign centered around his highly touted "electability," has hemorrhaged support since his disappointing performances in Iowa and New Hampshire. But on the plus side, he's still recognized as existing on the physical plane, which is more than we can say for some people we can't currently see right now (they are Elizabeth Warren).
WHAR WARREN? It's not as though Mark Murray ran out of space in his tweet (280 characters is a bastard!), Warren isn't included in the hypothetical and mostly pointless general-election matchups in the full length article covering the poll results. There's no good reason. Her poll numbers are double those of Amy Klobuchar's. We shouldn't discount KLOMENTUM, but at its current rate, Klobuchar's support will have grown to 12 percent by the Democratic National Convention.
Pollster Peter Hart told Buzzfeed his firm didn't include Warren because his poll only had "space and time" for five candidate matchups. This is a presidential race, though, and Warren isn't the 1980s standup comic who got bumped from Johnny Carson.
"Amy Klobuchar was selected as the fifth candidate," Hart said in an email. "We have tested Warren earlier, and I suspect she will be part of the next testing."
Sorry, there's only space for one woman at a time in these sausage-fest matchups. The logic is sketchy. I get that Pete Buttigieg kinda, sorta won Iowa and has seen a surge of support from proud nanas, but he's about to hit an electoral brick wall called black people. Klobuchar has the same challenge, which is why she's had to ask a Democratic Party official for a list of black churches in South Carolina. Tom Steyer's wife, Kat Taylor, already visited my dad's church in Greenville, South Carolina, last month. Klobuchar needs to buy a nice church hat and get moving.
The media is treating Warren like an also-ran. I can partly understand why: She was leading polls in Iowa and New Hampshire last year. Her actual performance was the opposite of KLOMENTUM. She didn't defy expectations. However, Biden led several Iowa polls as recently as January before his total collapse in the caucuses. He came in fourth. Warren was third, which I think is better than fourth. Warren also beat Biden in New Hampshire. They have not won the same number of states, but objectively more people have voted for Warren. She also has more delegates than the former vice president.
Biden is believed to have better states ahead of him, but the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that Bloomberg is siphoning off some of his black support. You can't really predict the future, so the matchups should've been based on where everyone is ranked right now.
I've criticized head-to-head matchup polls because they rarely reflect reality. A big complaint from some Democrats is that third party voters "helped" Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College. It's wishful thinking to presume third-party voters won't exist in 2020, especially if Bloomberg is the nominee. Biden was humiliated twice so far and is headed for another potential loss in Nevada. Yet, we're supposed to believe he's going to break 50 percent in the general election like a common Barack Obama? It reminds me of all the head-to-head matchups that showed John Kasich as the only Republican who could beat Clinton. This went on through April of 2016, when Kasich hadn't won a single state in the primary other than his own.
I don't know if Warren can turn things around, but neither do the pollsters. Ignoring her in favor of a billionaire candidate who hasn't even appeared on a ballot yet seems wrong.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).