Elizabeth Warren’s challenge: Breaking out of murky middle

Published: Feb. 10, 2020 at 5:31 AM EST
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By: The Associated Press February 10, 2020

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Elizabeth Warren isn’t struggling like Joe Biden. But she isn’t soaring, like Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders.

Instead, the Massachusetts senator enters a critical stretch of the campaign relegated to the murky middle. She has to convince voters she has a viable path to the nomination, even if that path is unclear. Her campaign has spent millions of dollars flexing organizational muscle throughout the country, but she’s lagging in her own backyard ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

“I think it’s going to be tough if she doesn’t do well,” said Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anslem College.

Warren’s standing has frustrated her supporters and advisers, who have watched last summer’s surge stagnate and struggled to kick the campaign into a new political gear. They are also aware of the realities of her situation, including the fact that her fundraising has fallen off since she pulled in an impressive $24.6 million last summer.

Warren placed a respectable third in Iowa, behind Buttigieg and Sanders. But a similar finish in New Hampshire could put her candidacy in peril.

Expectations for her here had been high. Though Sanders won Iowa by more than 20 points during the Democratic primary campaign in 2016, Warren is also a familiar figure for the state’s voters. Her team has been touting the endorsements of nearly 700 New Hampshire elected officials, party elders, political activists and community leaders.

And if Warren doesn’t win in New Hampshire, it’s unclear where she might. Nevada goes next, then South Carolina and a slate of Southern states with high concentrations of African American Democrats, a demographic that polls suggest the senator has struggled to connect with.

Warren’s campaign has tweaked its message in recent weeks, with the senator stressing her ability to unite the Democratic Party. She has also leaned into gender, noting that women have done better in elections since President Donald Trump won the White House in 2016.