2020 Democratic White House hopeful Elizabeth Warren has now eclipsed former vice president Joe Biden as the crowded field’s new frontrunner for the first time this election cycle.
A slew of new polls released this month pushed Warren over the edge to frontrunner status as concerns surrounding Sen. Bernie Sanders’ health following a recent heart attack and questions regarding Biden’s dealings with Ukraine plague her top-tier rivals’ campaigns.
According to Real Clear Politics’ latest aggregate of national polls as of Wednesday, Warren now leads the rest of the field with 26.6 percent support, ahead of Biden at 26.4 percent, with Sanders falling behind in a distant third at 14.6 percent. All other candidates running fall well below 10 percent. As extremely narrow, Warren’s new lead is well within the error margin on these polls.
In September, a well-received debate performance in the middle of the month combined with key endorsements and quality fundraising totals unveiled last week have propelled the Massachusetts senator to the front of the pack.
Warren, one of the left-wing field’s farthest left candidates, spent much the summer competing with Sanders for second and third place, finally breaking from the Vermont senator at the end of September after the candidate with a reputation for big plans unveiled new proposals that resonated with the party’s progressive base.
The communist-affiliated Working Families Party, which had backed the openly socialist senator’s presidential bid in 2016, this time endorsed Warren. The endorsement was announced on the same day Warren rolled out her newest plan to address Washington corruption with a speech to more than 20,000 people gathered in New York City’s Washington Square Park.
As Warren soars, Sanders sinks with Biden, and the Vermont senator’s recent heart attack has raised more concerns about his health and stamina to take on President Donald Trump next fall, let alone be president. Biden’s campaign has also struggled as new allegations at the center of the impeachment inquiry into Trump have placed a new spotlight on the Biden family’s shady dealings with Ukraine.
While the Trump administration deals with charges of conspiring with the Ukrainian president to interfere in the next U.S. presidential election, Biden and his family’s business interests in the country have come under heightened scrutiny as well. Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company for $50,000 a year despite no prior experience in the industry while his father oversaw U.S. policy towards Ukraine as vice president.
While Biden began to clash with Warren and Sanders at the last Democratic debate, the two far-left senators have remained allies on the campaign trail as in the Senate with nearly identical socialist platforms.
Going forward, Warren still faces several weaknesses that her campaign must overcome to clinch the Democratic nomination. Warren polls terribly with African-Americans, a crucial voting bloc that was essential to the victories of Barack Obama, and the electoral successes of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
While the Massachusetts liberal is winning high levels of support among women, young people, and the college-educated, she is still struggling with African-Americans, although recent polls suggest Warren is improving among this key group. An Economist/YouGov poll shows Warren winning 15 percent of African Americans surveyed, trailing only Biden, who has 36 percent.
Warren has also been facing her own credibility issues. She was recently caught in another major lie about facing sex discrimination. Warren often claims that she was once fired after her first year of teaching at a school in New Jersey because she was “visibly pregnant,” but recently uncovered documents contradict the senator’s claims. According to records first reported by the Washington Free Beacon, New Jersey’s Riverdale Board of Education unanimously approved Warren’s contract for a second year in 1970. The following year, the school board accepted Warren’s resignation “with regret.”
The new revelations about Warren’s employment history mirror the senator’s well-documented fabrications about her native American ancestry. Warren claimed at multiple points throughout her career to be part Cherokee, even taking a DNA test last year to “prove” her heritage, although the results revealed Warren to be anywhere between 1/64th to 1/1,024th native American if any at all.
The DNA test was sharply criticized by tribal leaders, who branded Warren’s claim to Cherokee heritage as “inappropriate and wrong.” Warren has since apologized and no longer claims to be Native American after decades of falsely claiming minority status to advance her career.
Warren’s scandal involving her ancestry is unlikely to play an important role in shaping her candidacy throughout the Democratic primary, given that it has been well-exposed since her 2012 Senate run. It is however likely to be a part of the Republican strategy to discredit the senator. Trump has already made it his favorite line of attack against her, bestowing on Warren the repeated nickname “Pocahontas.”