Politics

Head of Data at Firm Paid by Warren: Insane to Think She’s More Electable Than Sanders

Sanders has higher national favorability, performs better against Trump

Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren / Getty Images

The head of data at a firm that has been paid six-figures by Sen. Elizabeth Warren's campaign this cycle said it is "quantitatively insane" to think the likely 2020 Democratic presidential contender is more electable than Sen. Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.).

Civis Analytics, a consulting firm founded by Dan Wagner, the former chief analytics officer for Obama's 2012 campaign, has hauled in millions of dollars from dozens of Democratic campaigns and committees since its formation. Its client roster includes Warren's campaign, which began paying the firm on June 5 for research consulting and has since disbursed $117,500, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Despite the arrangement between Civis and Warren's campaign, David Shor, the head of political data science at the firm, publicly shot down the idea that the Massachusetts senator would fare better than Sanders in 2020 as the firm was performing work for Warren.

"The idea that Elizabeth Warren is obviously more electable than Bernie Sanders is quantitatively insane," Shor previously said on Twitter. Shor posted four screenshots in the tweet that included a portion of an article touching base on how Warren may be appealing to Democratic leaders for her potential to excite the activist base while staving off candidates they fear could lose the general election, such as Sanders. That screenshot is followed by data comparisons between Warren and Sanders, including their favorable and unfavorable ratings, in which Sanders fared better in all of the statistical categories.

Shor's thoughts were included in an Intelligencer article the next day on how Democrats should distrust "electability" arguments for the 2020 elections. "As David Shor of Civis Analytics notes, there is little empirical evidence that Warren would make a stronger general election candidate than Sanders—but quite a lot to suggest the opposite," it states, with Shor's tweet included in the article. The article goes on to note how Sanders has a higher national favorability rating than Warren and how hypothetical 2020 polls show Sanders performing better against Trump than Warren.

Civis Analytics is not paid by Sanders's campaign and never has been, a search of the FEC's database shows.

Shor did not return a request for comment on his statements by press time. Warren's campaign did not respond to inquiries on Shor's comments despite the campaign paying the firm for its services.

Civis Analytics was "born" out of Obama's 2012 campaign with the help of Eric Schmidt, the former executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company, who worked as a recruiter and trainer for the campaign. Schmidt approached Obama's chief analytics officer about starting a company at the conclusion of the campaign and initially provided seed funding for Civis and later helped the group raise $22 million.

Schmidt would go on to directly work with Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign through a tech startup called The Groundwork. Schmidt provided funding to The Groundwork, which was developed by Michael Slaby, the former chief integration and innovation officer for Obama's campaign.

The Washington Free Beacon previously reported that Civis has been paid millions since its formation by a number of liberal committees and campaigns including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic National Committee, Priorities USA Action, NextGen Climate Action, and the Senate Majority PAC. Civis also works for a number of Fortune 500 companies.