Warren as Biden’s running mate makes no electoral sense
Poll of the week: A new national Ipsos/Reuters poll finds former Vice President Joe Biden with a 45% to 39% lead over President Donald Trump.
Biden’s lead is confirmed by an ABC News/Washington Post poll out Sunday morning putting Biden at 53% to Trump’s 43% among registered voters.
What’s the point: Biden’s lead has stayed consistent, though the race is close enough that Trump could close the gap in the five months between now and the election. Biden may try to shore up his position through his vice presidential selection.
A potential running mate who has gotten more attention recently is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But a look at the data reveals choosing Warren makes little sense electorally speaking.
Start off with the fact that selecting Warren could cost the Democrats a Senate seat. Outside Massachusetts changing its law, a Warren Senate vacancy would be filled by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.
So what could possibly make Biden risk a Senate seat by choosing Warren?
The electoral argument for Warren has been outlined well by famed Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg. Biden has electoral weaknesses among Democratic voters mostly on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ part of the party and Warren can help with those.
However, the public polling suggests differently. Combining our last two CNN polls (March and May) that asked about Warren’s favorability finds that she gets about a -20 point net favorability (favorable – unfavorable) among Democratic leaning voters who say they are not voting for Biden at this point.
That makes sense when you look at the groups Biden is doing well with and the voters Warren generally appealed to during the 2020 primaries.
Biden’s actually doing quite well on his left, for example. An average of recent live interview polls shows that Biden’s getting 85% among self-described liberal voters. Trump’s scoring just 9%. Four years ago, an average of pre-election polls taken after the third presidential debate put Hillary Clinton at 77% and Trump at 10% among self-described liberal registered voters.
In other words, Biden is doing better than Clinton did among self-described liberals.
Another group where Warren showed real strength in the primary season was among white college educated women. In states with entrance or exit polls, Warren got 22% of their vote on average, compared to the 13% that she got overall in those states.
Like with liberals, Biden is performing very well for a Democrat among white college educated women. An average of recent polls puts Biden at 61% and Trump at 36% among them. The final pre-election polls from four years ago had Clinton with a 52% to 36% edge.
This is not to say all is well with Biden and the Democratic base. Biden does have problems with three key parts of the Democratic coalition: black voters (particularly young ones), Hispanic voters and young voters generally. Biden holds large leads among all, but not to the same degree that Clinton held at the end of the 2016 campaign.
These are mostly groups that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders did well with in the primary, but there’s little sign Warren has any special appeal to them. She underperformed with all of them in the primary.
Warren averaged 7% of the black vote in primaries where black voters made up at least 5% of voters. She got 11% of black voters under the age of 30 in these same contests. Warren averaged 12% of the vote overall in these states.
Warren scored an average of 8% of the Hispanic vote in primaries in which Hispanics made up at least 5% of voters. She earned 13% of the primary vote on average in these same contests.
Warren took an average of 12% from voters under the age of 30 in the primary. She averaged 13% in these contests overall.
None of this is to say that selecting Warren would hurt Biden. The political science literature indicates that vice presidential picks don’t make much of an electoral difference, except for maybe a slight home state boost — and Massachusetts is already quite blue. Polls that indicate they can be game changers generally use flawed design. Nothing discussed above or in Warren’s electoral history suggests she will break that streak, given she has underperformed the Democratic baseline performance in her Senate runs.
If Biden’s going to put a Senate seat at play with no real shot at electoral payoff, he’d need not to have any other potential candidates. He has so many of them that my colleague Chris Cillizza has a regular column ranking the top 10 of them.
This story has been updated with results from an ABC News/Washington Post poll.