By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – In hindsight, the poll in late 2018 of Massachusetts voters where a clear majority said they didn’t want Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president was a warning sign.

There were a range of speculative interpretations. Were voters in one of the nation’s most anti-Trump states saying they just didn’t believe a liberal Harvard Law professor would match up well against the incumbent? Was it continuing backlash against the seemingly never-ending string of Massachusetts elected officials who use their posts as a springboard for indulging Potomac fever? Were ultra-savvy Democrats nervous about who our Republican governor might appoint to a vacated Senate seat? Was there an element of sexism in a state with a dreadful history of shunning female candidates for high office?

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Who knows. But on Super Tuesday, Massachusetts Democrats and independents re-upped that repudiation of Warren’s ambitions in stunning fashion.

According to CNN exit polling:

• Warren finished third here among women behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders;
• Her male support was half that of Biden;
• She won only one subset of educational attainment, voters with advanced degrees, beaten by Biden 44-to-16 percent among those who never attended college (for an excellent analysis of Warren’s limiting “wine track” appeal, read this);
• Warren lost liberals to Bernie Sanders (40-to-33 percent), finished third among the “somewhat liberal,” fourth among moderates, beaten out for third place by Michael Bloomberg;
• Among voters for whom health care was the most important issue, it was Biden 37%, Sanders 28%, Warren 18%, a cruel reminder of the key blunder of her campaign, the botched Medicare for All rollout;
• And in perhaps the unkindest cut of all in a week when black voters reaffirmed their status as they key voting bloc in the Democratic Party, Warren finished fourth among African-American voters here – behind Bloomberg, the king of stop-and-frisk.

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What now? Her few campaign options range from unappetizing to distasteful. A zombie candidacy limping along in the Hail Mary hope of a contested convention is being floated by her aides, but toward what end? The convention will not fling Biden and Sanders aside to rally behind her.

Give it up now and throw her support behind one of the front runners? While she continues to call Sanders a “friend,” frenemy is more like it. Endorsing a loser is never a great political move, and right now Sanders is looking like a loser. And while Biden would surely welcome her support, don’t forget the bad blood between them dating back to her days as an academic crusader for bankruptcy reforms that threatened a key industry in Delaware, Biden’s home state.

It’s hard to envision Warren even wanting to be second-banana on the ticket or a cabinet official, set aside the party nominee’s interest in bringing in such an independent figure. She can stay in the Senate, commanding media attention to her agenda at will, and perhaps getting a lot more done should the Democrats seize majority control.

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Elizabeth Warren, her husband Bruce Mann and their dog Bailey leave their house on March 3, 2020 in Cambridge. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Don’t cry for Liz Warren – there’s no shame in losing, and no danger of Bailey having to switch to inferior dog food. But let this be a teachable moment for the host of other Massachusetts pols who, for reasons that continue to escape me, go to sleep at night measuring the Oval Office for fresh drapes: when the voters who know you best send you a message like Massachusetts voters sent Warren in 2018 and again Tuesday night, you’d best listen.

Jon Keller