Politico: Sanders Campaign in Disarray as Warren Rises

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) / Getty Images
• September 30, 2019 2:15 pm


Senator Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) presidential campaign is floundering with no clear fix in sight, according to a Politico report.

There is confusion over what the Vermont senator's approach will be for the remainder of the campaign. Meanwhile, his fellow far-left candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), appears to have solidified her position as co-frontrunner alongside former vice president Joe Biden for the 2020 nomination.

"Bernie has no idea how to right the ship and neither does anybody around him," a Democratic activist told Politico, a regional trade publication located many, many floors below the Washington Free Beacon. "They don’t know where they’re going. They know things aren’t going well and they’re grasping at ideas."

Politico‘s Holly Otterbein explained how the campaign's "fits and starts" indicate a lack of clear direction:

His team decided to focus intently on Medicare for All a few months ago, they say, but then went on an electability tour last week. He orchestrated a softball game with reporters in Iowa in a sign he wanted to ease tensions with the media, only to continue holding up the "corporate media" as a bogeyman on the campaign trail. He made an effort to draw more institutional support than in 2016, even calling politicians to woo them, but got out-hustled by Warren for the Working Families Party’s endorsement.

Reporting from West Liberty, Iowa, Otterbein said Sanders is struggling beneath the "specter of Warren," a "problematic narrative [that] was hardening around him" as she surged in both national and early-state polls.

"As [Sanders] delivered his populist gospel to large crowds of camouflage-clad high schoolers, liberal arts college students, and trade union members across Iowa last week, a problematic narrative was hardening around him: His campaign is in disarray and Elizabeth Warren has eclipsed him as the progressive standard-bearer of the primary," Otterbein wrote.

A recent poll showed Warren taking a 22-20 lead over Biden in Iowa—Sanders remains a distant third at 11 percent support. New Hampshire polling shows Warren with a commanding lead over both Biden and Sanders, while South Carolina polling shows the former vice president firmly in first place.

Sanders won New Hampshire handily in 2016, but he has made significant changes to his operation in the state this year, including replacing his state director. In Nevada, Sanders is deadlocked with Biden for the polling lead, but he remains stuck in third place behind Biden and Warren nearly everywhere else.

While the Sanders campaign's official line is not to criticize Warren, some staffers are publicly attacking the Massachusetts senator. His campaign's national press secretary criticized Warren for refusing to support a national rent control program.

The Working Families Party, a pro-labor, left-wing group, endorsed Warren over Sanders in September, despite backing the Vermont socialist during the 2016 election. The party cited Warren's "truly visionary plans to make this country work for the many" as one of the reasons for backing her in 2020.

Sanders remains steadfast in his belief that he can win the 2020 nomination, saying that his campaign's internal polling contradicts the public polls that have shown a Warren surge.

"Our data shows a very different situation than that poll reflected. But bottom line is I think we’re gonna win here in Iowa," he said.