As centrist Democrats consolidate around Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, progressive organizations that have divided in support between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren said they do not have a plan to quickly band behind one of the two to form a coalition against the moderate threat.
Justice Democrats, founded by alumni of Sanders' 2016 campaign, suggested Monday that Warren ease up on attacks on Sanders and commit to supporting him with her delegates should he continue to run well ahead of her campaign. But groups that have backed Warren for months or years — like the Working Families Party and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee — are showing no sign of relenting in their support or beginning to coalesce around Sanders’ frontrunning campaign to match the support Biden’s now receiving.
“The point I want to make is that most voters aren’t extremely ideological and there are voters that support Sanders who would never support Warren and there are Warren supporters who would never support Sanders,” Adam Green, the cofounder of PCCC, which supports Warren’s campaign, told BuzzFeed News about the different bases of support who might not support each other in the primary. He added that he believes Warren supporters would support Sen. Sanders if he were to become the party's nominee. “Warren remains the second choice for tons of voters and staying in this race is helpful to progressives across this country because there are tons of Amy and Pete supporters who would have defaulted to Biden if she weren’t there.”
Progressives who are supporting Warren’s campaign argued that Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar have given Warren a real shot at picking up enough delegates to help her campaign survive Super Tuesday by ending their own campaigns to back Biden. If Warren can continue on toward the Democratic convention with delegates, they argue, it would help the progressive movement no matter which candidate wins in the end. They’ve suggested that either candidate could make a deal with the other prior to the convention in a bid to keep their delegates together. They also pointed to her commitment to staying in the race as beneficial to Sanders on the debate stage.
“One can close their eyes and imagine a debate stage on March 15 with both Bernie and Warren tag-teaming Biden,” Green told BuzzFeed News. “His campaign would be declared dead in minutes on Wikipedia.”
He added that the best outcome from Super Tuesday would be that Sanders and Warren would be the last two Democrats running for the party’s nomination. “We’d have two members of the progressive wing running against each other, and I really don’t see a better situation for progressive voters than that one.” This, however, looks unlikely in the short term, with Biden going into Super Tuesday far ahead of Warren in the delegate count, and in a better position in many of the 14 states with contests.
“The last couple days of this race have underscored exactly how fluid it still is, and there are a lot of delegates that are still up for grabs,” said Joe Dinkin, the Working Families Party’s national campaign director. “One of Warren's talents is that she has brought new people into the progressive movement, and they aren't all necessarily Bernie supporters. Having two progressive candidates accumulate progressive delegates could prove very valuable."
Those comments come after both Buttigieg and Klobuchar announced that they were dropping out of the presidential race in the days after the South Carolina primary, where Biden blew out the field and emerged as seemingly the strongest chance at stopping Sanders’ campaign from at least reaching a majority of delegates after winning New Hampshire, Nevada, and narrowly placing in second in Iowa.
On Monday night, Buttigieg and Klobuchar both announced that they were endorsing Biden in the hours before Super Tuesday. Beto O’Rourke, who also ran for president this cycle, also endorsed Biden at his Monday night rally in Dallas.
Other progressives, like Alexandra Rojas, the executive director of Justice Democrats, have said that Warren is standing in the way of Sanders and could push the party toward a contested convention.
“Senator Warren has been an ally of the progressive movement throughout her entire career. But I hope she stops attacking Senator Sanders and publicly commits to give her delegates to him if he has more votes to ensure a progressive wins the nomination,” Rojas said in a statement. I'd say the same to Bernie. Pursuing the nomination through a contested convention without accumulating the most delegates would be harmful for our movement, our party, and the policies she's spent her life fighting for."
Spokespersons for Warren’s campaign did not respond for comment.
On Monday morning, Democracy for America, one of the last major progressive organizations to endorse a candidate, voted to endorse Sanders over Warren with 79% of the voters in its endorsement poll choosing his candidacy and 13% choosing Warren. The group said in its announcement that it planned to continue to honor the progressive unity pledge it helped design in January and that it planned on “focusing its fire” on candidates supported by the corporate wing of the party.
The groups who spoke with BuzzFeed News said that they didn’t currently see a need for a coordinated strategy against Biden’s campaign in the lead-up to Super Tuesday and that they’d planned on working independently of each other.
“We’ve been making this argument against corporate Democrats for years and we’ve all worked together on that in the past,” Green told BuzzFeed News. “I think we’ve all been pushing a similar critique of his campaign independently of each other which is that Joe Biden is wrong on almost everything from cutting social security to being out of touch on gender and race issues when we need the most diverse coalition that we can get in the general election.”