Warren’s campaign postmortem

First: glorious weather..good night’s sleep (for a change) and it turns out that 11:00 was “too fast; I was 22:20 at 2.1 miles and walked a bit. I ended up cutting the first part short, but then adding distance back to get 5.48 miles in 1:05 (11:50 pace)

I was still tired from yesterday’s deadlifts and walk.

Running: lower emphasis ..for sure..I really enjoy walking more though running for up to 30-40 minutes..even 1 hour is ok.

Politics I suppose I am thinking about Warren so much because she was so popular with those I usually associate with (academics, Unitarians, NPR listeners) and the attempts to diagnose what went wrong are so typical.

And some of the things about her being a groundbreaking female candidate?

Hillary Clinton not only won the nomination, she went on to win a plurality of votes in the general election…and yet…running a campaign that finished 3’rd in her home state..and at most 3’d elsewhere was progress?

Here is what I think is going on: the pundits, journalists and other saying these sorts of thing were educated in a new era of higher education. Wokeness became the norm, and Warren speaking in such terms is what they were used to. But the general public doesn’t play that. Warren not connecting with the voters was a big NaN…error..error…does not compute…to them.

Joe Biden For those who are calling Joe Biden a “mediocre white man”: he was born on November 20, 1942. He was elected to the US Senate as a Democrat during the Nixon blowout election on November 7, 1972. That’s right: Biden was 29 years old when he won his Senate seat (turned 30 before being sworn in).

“Mediocre indeed.”

What is so off-putting about the Warren campaign …

First: nice yoga session, then a 10K-ish run (5 miles plus 3 extra goose loops) in 1:22. Slow but I didn’t care.
Sleep: not so good. Weight: 193 (195 with shoes and shorts)

Super Tuesday is coming up and I don’t know how it will go. I do know that many academics support Elizabeth Warren….highly educated, mostly white and heavily female. But Warren has not gone much past that.

I still believe part of the problem is that she really isn’t a natural politician; witness her low constituent approval rating (Morning Consult)

Witness that in 2012, she was outperformed by Obama by 7 points (she ran for election in 2012 vs. R. Scott Brown).

Some of it is speaking, stage presence, etc.

I think there may be something else going on.

Consider this image (a sponsored one)

Note the sign.

Warren really reminds me of the type who attempts to obtain information and perspectives about a community from self-styled “activists” …many who really do not speak for anyone other than themselves.

Seriously…consider this Latinix thing. Hardly anyone in Latin communities embrace this term; this is mostly a college campus/”activist” sort of thing. I do not use the term.

Her campaign seems to openly embrace wokeness…and that is just not a winning campaign strategy, no matter how popular it is in UU churches and in liberal arts colleges.

And the attitude of her supporters do not help things; this is typical:

So winning a US Senate seat under your own steam (middle class roots) at 29 years of age is “mediocre”? Being VP for 8 years is “mediocre?” OMG…
(I deleted identifying information on the tweet as I have no desire to attack the individual stating it..but rather to show what is a very common attitude among Warren supporters)

For more about her supporters: yes, they tend to live in bubbles and are just shocked when they find out that THEY are the ones who are out of touch.

And yes, I know that Warren has lower middle class roots, and worked her way up. She is brilliant …hard working and very successful. I am proud that she is a Democrat. But I really don’t think that she “gets” what makes for a winning campaign. I see her as more of the “super genius specialist” that can solve problems.

One (of many) things liberals don’t get…

I didn’t see the last Democratic debate, but I did see some clips and I listened to what some said about some of the exchanges:

And liberals were all “OMG, Warren just GUTTED Bloomberg…she is sooooo gonna take it to Trump!”

Well, it has been tried before..like in 2015:

And that is what many “bubble” liberals simply do not get.

We live in bubbles. If a woman complains to HR, they are taken seriously. And in a college environment: OMG…they are listened to and administrators at least have to pretend to take their concerns seriously. And such attitudes get carried into Democratic debates.

Republicans don’t play that. Our “firework” debates are pillow-fights by Republican standards.

Trump would just make stuff up, call Warren “Pocahontas” and other names…basically just blow her off and ignore whatever she says. College educated feminists would cheer and exclaim how Trump has been exposed as a “misogynist, sexist pig” etc. Then their heads would explode when they find that Trump’s support hasn’t changed at all.

It is a bit like this old Brexit meme (Godfrey Elfwick)

We never learn.

Is Warren really the front runner for the D-nomination?

Yes, it is true that Warren has surged in the polls..but front runner? Uh..she will probably do well in Iowa and New Hampshire but in terms of national polls: not so fast.

And politically, she is the 6’th least popular senator per constituent approval (via Morning Consult)

Yes, she DOES have some passionate support, especially among educated people. She does have detailed plans on how to implement policies, which are probably sound ..on policy grounds.

But that is not what gets someone elected nor is it what motivates Congress to go along with said plans.

We tend to decide on, well, either emotions or empirical reasoning that takes place in our subconscious ..and then rationalize our choices.

Example: I found myself drawn toward Amy Klobuchar and Corey Booker. Why? My guess: in Booker’s case, he inspired confidence in me for reasons I didn’t quite understand at first. Then I found out: yes, he played football at Stanford…I was reacting to the “team captain” aspect of him. Klobuchar: perhaps she reminded me of my favorite demanding coaches, military officers and graduate school mentors who pushed you.


Uh, no..that is EXACTLY how it works..and in Warren’s case, my fear is that it will work against her in the general election.

My guess: many see Warren and Hillary Clinton as two tough, brilliant, outspoken women who will just take it to those intellectually dull arrogant MANSPLAINERS! That they are indeed different and somewhat on the opposite ends of the D party..well, that is a small detail
(yes, I knew someone who liked both Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton..because both were spunky women)

I think that this gets it right:

Yep. And as someone else pointed out:

I know..the D plans are mostly sound and work in other countries. But it sure APPEARS that we are for: “taking from the high achievers and giving to the chronic underachievers” and that just does not sell well. Yes, I KNOW it isn’t that. But it comes across that way, and …well, our message stinks. Just wagging your finger and calling your opponents heartless racists, sexists and misogynists isn’t going to work.

Explaining why ALL of us benefit might (e. g. more money at the bottom of the economy means more customers for hard working business owners..)

Felix’s biography of Elizabeth Warren

There was much about Elizabeth Warren that I didn’t know, and what I’ve learned, I’ll list later in this post, which is about Antonia Felix’s book Elizabeth Warren, Her Fight, Her Work, Her Life.
You can read a review here.

The most important things I learned: (less important list at the end)

1. I knew she was a top notch scholar. But, if anything, I underestimated how good she is. Wow…let’s put it this way: Harvard recruited her to come as a full professor. That means “world class.”

2. On pages 70-72, we find that Warren, now a law professor at the University of Houston, attended a seminar on law and economics, run by the Olin Foundation. It was to teach economics to law professors, with the underlying goal, according to the foundation, to make law professors more conservative. At the time, Warren was a Republican. There, she studied and learned the principles of conservative thought on economics and, eventually, used what she learned to fight against that approach to economics!

Ah…if we had more of that these days; LEARNING the other side’s best arguments, even if it is to learn how to better fight against them. But…all too often we find some kook on the other side to lampoon. But I am digressing.

Anyway, there is much more there…and no, the “nevertheless, she persisted” incident isn’t described, her early days in the Senate are. And yes, there is a discussion of her “Native American heritage” claims.

At times, the book is too much like a cheer leading book, but there is a lot of solid fact there.

1. She grew up in Oklahoma, and won a Betty Crocker competition in high school.
2. She was on the debate team in high school and later in college (first was George Washington University).
3. She dropped out of college to get married. Warren is the surname of her first husband, who she ended up divorcing.
4. Undergraduate degree: University of Houston (where she finished)
5. Law degree: Rutgers. She taught there, and later at UH.
6. She spent time teaching law (and doing scholarship) at Rutgers, Houston, University of Texas, Penn, and finally at Harvard. She was RECRUITED to join the faculty at Harvard as a full professor.
7. Our time and Texas briefly overlapped.
8. She was a Republican for much of her early life and remains a staunch capitalist..she is for regulated capitalism NOT socialism.
9. She appears to like men’s legs (noticed that on her second husband) Yeah, that is fluff, but so what.

there is much more that I already knew e. g. her overseeing the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which came about as part of Dodd-Frank. Note that at the time, there weren’t many universal protections for those using financial products.

The cultural divide and Biden’s candidacy

I have no idea as to who will win the Democratic nomination. Right now Biden leads pretty much everywhere, though his competition is gaining on him in Iowa. He remains the betting odds favorite.

Regardless of how he does, reactions to what he does is telling. Consider this action:

Predictably…this action grated on certain types of women (liberal, highly educated feminists)

And does NOT bother other types:

Yes, there IS a divide, even among women who do not like Trump, at all….even among those who would flip off a Trump building. One of these flat out told me: “those feminists simply do not speak to me.”
And yes, at my job I work with a lot of the “woke” feminists who appear to be on a hair trigger for any hint of “sexism” and, in my personal life, I am good friends..dear friends who see asymmetries between men and women as just part of life. Many are ok with it..even embrace it.

And, IMHO, Joe Biden will be much more popular with the second type of Democratic woman. And the first type of Democratic woman is NOT in the majority. And I think that Democrats need to understand this..not understanding it could be fatal.

Note: I do NOT share the author’s confidence in Elizabeth Warren, though…well, that is a topic for another post. There is much I like about her; it is her show-biz skills and “ability to attract previously disinterested voters” that cause me concern, as does her tepid approval rating in Massachusetts. (49 percent approval via Morning Consult; Jan 2019) And she isn’t doing that well in her state in the candidate polls, currently trailing Joe Biden by 12 points 22-10.

But..Warren is turning some heads with her “policy first”..”I’ve got a plan” for that, and these plans are not only policy plans, but “how I plan to move it through Congress” plans.

And Paul Krugman has some interesting things to say (sent out in a newsletter to NYT subscribers …it has not appeared as an article as yet so I am reproducing it here:

More than six months ago, I wrote a column titled “Elizabeth Warren and her party of ideas,” in which I described Warren as the closest modern equivalent to the role once played by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a serious intellectual turned influential politician. The article was, in effect, a plea for the news media to tone down the traditional obsession with “likeability” — the modern version of “a guy you’d like to have a beer with” — and pay attention to candidates’ policy proposals.
To be honest, I fully expected the column to be a tree falling in the forest, where nobody could hear it. And for the next few months, my pessimism seemed justified. In fact, many pundits seemed to have written Warren off. Nevertheless, as Mitch McConnell famously complained, she persisted.
And something strange has happened: Bit by bit, policy proposal by policy proposal, Warren has been clawing her way into the position of a major contender. People are showing up at campaign rallies wearing “Warren has a plan for that” T-shirts. There has also been a startling shift in the media narrative, with a spate of articles — most recently in today’s Times — marveling at the way Warren’s wonkiness has become a defining, popular piece of personal branding. Pundits are even starting to say that her policy earnestness makes her … likable.
Will she actually get the nomination? Could she win if she did? I have absolutely no idea. Neither, by the way, does anyone else.
But there is one point I think even the somewhat bemused pro-Warren punditry is missing. There’s a reason, beyond being smart and well-informed, that Warren is able to come up with so many interesting policy ideas. Namely, there is a huge gap between what inside-the-Beltway opinion considers serious policy and what actual policy researchers have to say. This creates what I think of as the Great Wonk Window: a surprisingly wide range of policy areas where a politician can be simultaneously radical by conventional political standards and solidly grounded in expert analysis.
One example is taxation of the rich. Conventional wisdom is still obsessed with the notion that taxing high incomes and/or giant fortunes will have dangerous effects on incentives. Actual experts in public finance have, however, long argued that substantially higher top-end taxation is justified — and Warren devised her wealth-tax plan with help from Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, superstars in the field.
Another example is child care, where there is a large body of evidence that investments in child care pay back significant dividends in both the short run — by helping mothers remain employed — and in the long run, because well-cared-for children grow up into more productive adults.
So as I said, there’s a surprisingly big window for politically radical but economically sound policy. And Warren clearly both knows that this window exists and is trying to use the resulting opening to promote her agenda.
Whether she or anyone else will manage to climb through that window remains to be seen. But opening the wonk window is, at least potentially, a really big deal.