By Kylie Jacobsen
Today at The Washington Center, we spent an extended period of time discussing the upcoming 2016 election and the potential candidates. We had several speakers come in to discuss the topic, such as Amie Parnes, Nia Malika-Henderson, Jonathan Martin, and John King.
The speakers primarily debated which Republicans and Democrats will choose to run for president in the next couple of months, and also what role Hillary Clinton will play for the Democratic Party. They also discussed the possibility of Elizabeth Warren running for president, and how this would impact Clinton’s campaign strategy.
However, it was announced today in an interview with Fortune Magazine that Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts will not be running for president in 2016. Now that Warren has officially stated that she isn’t seeking the nomination, what does this mean for the Democratic Party? And more importantly, what does it mean for Hillary?
This morning, Parnes explained that while Warren and Clinton are both members of the Democratic Party, they do vary significantly in ideology. Elizabeth Warren identifies as a progressive liberal, while Hillary Clinton is considered more of a moderate Democrat. Because primaries tend to include more polarized voters than the general election, strong liberal candidates tend to do well in Democratic primaries, while strong conservative candidates tend to do well in Republican primaries.
Even though Clinton has not officially announced her intent to run for president in 2016, she is extremely popular in polls among Democrats, while Warren usually fluctuates around 45-50 percentage points below Clinton. Clinton has a huge appeal to many Democrats as shown from the polling, but because of the polarized primary system, it is possible that Warren could be more successful than expected in the primaries if she were to run.
Without Warren in the race, this could lead to greater success for Clinton. Her appeal to such a wide range of Democrats is truly remarkable – she could have an easy time securing the nomination without any strong opposition. This has not been the case in the Republican Party polls, where there are more candidates in a much tighter race.
According to both Malika-Henderson and Martin, Warren was the potential main challenger to Clinton. These experts argue that Clinton needs a challenge in order to do well in the primaries, and without Warren, this may not happen. Use 2008 as an example of this. Clinton entered the race after President Obama because she thought the nomination was hers, but it was too late. Obama gained significant support in Iowa and in other states before Clinton was able to take it, Clinton lost the nomination because of it. Clinton’s arrogance is considered to be one of the reasons she was not successful in that election.
Warren’s decision not to run may have hurt Clinton in more ways than originally anticipated. Clinton may have a harder time in the primaries if extreme liberals will not vote for her. Another problem for Clinton is that a grassroots candidate could successfully steal some of her thunder if she becomes too arrogant and thinks that the competition is easily beatable.
But, there is hope. Clinton dominates over other potential candidates in the polls, especially Warren. Although Warren does have progressive liberal support, Clinton has support of centrist liberals, which outnumber the progressives. With such a huge lead in polls approximately a year before the first primaries, Clinton and the Democratic Party may have already succeeded without really needing to try.
It will be extremely interesting to see how this plays out for the Democratic Party. Other candidates may try to challenge Hillary, but as of right now, it doesn’t seem like she has much to worry about.