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It’s Time For Some Game Theory


Elizabeth Warren seems to be signaling that she’s not intending to endorse anytime soon:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called out Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for not taking steps to control the “organized nastiness” of some of his supporters during the presidential campaign.

“It’s not just about me,” Warren said in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday following her decision to suspend her campaign for the Democratic nomination. “I think that’s a real problem with this online bullying and sort of organized nastiness. … I’m talking about some really ugly stuff that went on.”

While politics has become riddled with such behavior, she said it was a particular problem with Sanders’s supporters. “It is. It just is,” she told Maddow.

Obviously, prominent online Bernie supporters letting their misogyny fly doesn’t help things, and has played a role in souring relations between the two camps. That said, I very strongly doubt that it’s the reason that Warren — who by all accounts is intensely focused on getting as much of her policy agenda implemented as possible — hasn’t endorsed Bernie yet. I think she hasn’t endorsed him because she doesn’t think he can win the nomination no matter what she does, and it’s hard to say that this isn’t well-founded:

Those Florida numbers in particular are brutal — I just don’t see the math working out for Bernie if Biden sweeps almost all of the delegates, and it’s not like that’s a state where Warren’s endorsement is likely to help much. And Warren knows that endorsing someone who can’t be president isn’t going to get her any influence in the next administration. I’m pretty confident that this rather than the snake emojis are the reason she’s holding back.

I’m not going to say it’s over: for an example of Bernie overperforming in Michigan, you have to go all the way back to the last Democratic primary cycle.* But if he wants not just a chance of getting Warren’s endorsement but a chance of winning at all, he’s going to have to do better on March 10 than the numbers are looking right now. And the fact that things are looking worse rather than better for him in a two-octogenarian race should really put to bed any excuses about his poorly conceived campaign tactics being Elizabeth Warren’s fault.

*One counterfactual I’ve always wondered about is if Clinton had held on in Michigan in 2016. I’ve always had the strong sense that it was the come-from-behind win there that the polls didn’t see at all that transformed Bernie’s 2016 from a surprisingly successful protest candidacy to a campaign that thought it could win, and hence could convinced itself and his supporters that it had been stolen from them when no more miracles happened. Clinton probably loses anyway — though who knows — but my guess that it would have either made Bernie a better candidate in 2020 or discouraged him from running and left the left lane for Warren.

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