BOSTON (CBS) – Sen. Elizabeth Warren for vice president?
No. Not a good idea for anyone involved, and unlikely to happen, despite a new CBSNews/YouGov poll of 2,200 registered voters (margin of error: 2.5%) that has the senior senator from Massachusetts leading comfortably among Democratic voters asked whom Joe Biden “should consider” to be his running mate.
Seventy-one percent cited Warren; 59% thought Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) should be considered, 50% said that of former Georgia State Rep. Stacey Abrams, with 49% naming Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota).
Even allowing for superior name recognition, that might seem like a ringing endorsement of Warren for VP. But when asked if Biden should actually pick Warren, her support slipped by half to 36%, still double the number citing Harris, but a striking drop.
Once upon a time, geography played a key role in second banana choices – think Michael Dukakis teaming up with Lloyd Bentsen of Texas in 1988, or the parade of VP nominees from Indiana over the years. That hasn’t mattered so much in the modern era, and the ability of any vice-presidential pick to carry their home state for the ticket is always in question; since 1984, only seven of 12 have done so.
But come on – a running-mate from Massachusetts? Really? If Biden feels for an instant he needs help winning here, he might as well start drafting his concession speech. And while New Hampshire is a key swing state, there’s no reason to think Warren could help him there after her dismal showing in the New Hampshire primary.
Warren is easily the most liberal figure on this poll’s short list, but given the palpable bad blood between the Warren and Bernie Sanders camps, it’s no slam dunk that she could herd reluctant leftists into the fold. Poll respondents clearly believe the chances of defeating Trump are enhanced if the vice-presidential nominee is a moderate – 42% say that would make it easier to win, while just 16% buy the notion that it would make things harder by failing to excite the left.
By a wide margin voters believe readiness to assume the presidency and ability to spur Democratic turnout should be top priorities for Biden’s pick. Warren is ready, but couldn’t sell the Democratic primary electorate on her electability or draw them out to support her. She seems unlikely to excite voters who want youth or color on the ticket.
One of the things Warren admirers love most about her is her political ferocity, her intense convictions and willingness to shred an adversary. If you’re Biden, is that really what you want in an understudy?
Then there’s the issue of a potential lost Senate seat for Democrats should a Biden/Warren ticket prevail. That could threaten a narrow Democratic Senate majority. Gov. Charlie Baker isn’t going to appoint a Democrat to serve out the remaining four years of Warren’s term; allow me to be the first to suggest that he might appoint himself, escaping the ruins of the Massachusetts economy and giving Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito a leg up.
And one final reason why Warren for vice president ought to be a non-starter – it might not be the best thing for Massachusetts. With a Democratic president in office and maybe even a Democratic Congress to go with it, a senior figure like Warren, with a national platform and plenty of internal clout, could be the Ted Kennedy-like figure our state desperately needs in the economic recovery battles to come.
And remember – whether it’s the November election or the hard times to follow, the economy is issue number one.