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The Democrats' faute de mieux front-runner

Michael Barone on

Is Elizabeth Warren the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination? You can make a strong argument that the answer is yes. You can also argue that she is, at most, a default front-runner and a problematic general election nominee.

And you might reasonably conclude that both arguments taken together tell you some interesting things about the current state of the Democratic Party -- the world's oldest political party.

Now, I'm certainly not arguing with my Washington Examiner colleague Byron York, who wrote last week that Joe Biden is no longer the Democratic front-runner. Since then, Biden's lead over Warren in the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls has shrunk to 0.2%. On June 21, it was 20%.

Warren's admirers attribute her sharp poll rise over the last three weeks to her energetic campaigning, ranging from smiling for countless selfies to insisting "I have a plan for that" on countless issues. But she's also benefited from the problems of her opponents.

The Democrats' case for impeachment inevitably highlights Biden's son's $50,000-a-month contract with a Ukrainian natural gas company while Vice President Biden was in charge of Ukraine policy. Bernie Sanders, 78, had a heart attack Oct. 1. Kamala Harris' habit of sloppily taking stands she can't sustain has lowered her numbers from 15% to 5%. Pete Buttigieg's chipper articulateness has helped him raise millions, but his support peaked at 8% in May and June. Beto O'Rourke and Cory Booker, the only other candidates ever above 5%, are now hovering around 2%.

That leaves Warren as, at most, the front-runner faute de mieux -- and one who seems to have taken some lessons from the president she obviously detests, Donald Trump.

 

1. Don't back down on even the diciest stands.

Her claim of Native American ancestry and her statement that she lost her teaching job because she was "visibly pregnant" don't seem well founded. And her insistence that the Ferguson cop committed "murder" is contradicted by the Obama Justice Department's thorough investigation of that tragedy.

2. Take what many consider unpopular stands on issues.

Like many Democrats, Warren seems to have concluded that if a rule-breaking candidate like Trump can be elected president, then none of the old political rules apply anymore.

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Copyright 2019 U.S. News and World Report. Distibuted by Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

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