Warren Team Lowers Expectations Ahead of Iowa Caucus

Campaign warns against 'breathless media narratives' after early voting

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January 24, 2020

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D., Mass.) campaign warned the candidate's supporters Friday about potential "breathless media narratives" following the first caucus votes in Iowa, moving to dampen expectations about her electoral performance.

In a fundraising memo to supporters, campaign manager Roger Lau highlighted the Warren team's "robust staff footprint" in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, while noting in a graphic that the states' combined 155 delegates represented just 3.9 percent of the total.

"For the last 13 months we have built and executed our plan to win," Lau wrote. "We expect this to be a long nomination fight and have built our campaign to sustain well past Super Tuesday and stay resilient no matter what breathless media narratives come when voting begins."

"The four early states contests are just the beginning," he added.

Lau stressed the importance of the "Super Tuesday" states and beyond, saying the campaign apparatus was also focused on winning the general election and boosting Democrats nationally.

Warren's campaign—once soaring thanks to progressive enthusiasm and positive media attention for the candidate's policy proposals—is struggling in the polls, both nationally and in the early states.

She led the FiveThirtyEight polling average in Iowa as recently as Nov. 11 but has since sunk to fourth place, behind former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The Democratic winner in Iowa in the past four open nominating contests (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2016) went on to clinch the nomination.

A new New Hampshire poll showed Sanders (29 percent) well ahead of Warren, who was in fourth place at 13 percent behind Buttigieg (17 percent) and Biden (14 percent). Given that the state borders Massachusetts, a poor finish there would be particularly disappointing for Warren.

Nationally, Warren has gone from leading the field at 26.6 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average on Oct. 8 to third place at 14.6 percent as of Friday.

Her standing began to suffer following the November release of her health care plan, which calls for the eventual elimination of private health insurance in favor of a single-payer Medicare for All system. Experts said her estimated price tag of $20.5 trillion was unrealistically low.

Democratic voters consistently rate beating President Donald Trump as their top priority in choosing a candidate. A recent Reuters-Ipsos survey found 35 percent of respondents choosing Biden as the best candidate to do that, well ahead of Sanders (15 percent) and Warren (12 percent).