On the surface, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders seem like two of the most similar candidates in the Democratic primary. They are both senators from northeastern states. They are both over the age of 70 (though Warren just turned 70 last month and Sanders is approaching 78). Most importantly, they both embrace the label of “democratic socialism.” And as a result, they count themselves in the progressive wing of the party.
It would be easy to extrapolate from that and assume that Warren and Sanders are pulling voters from the same demographics. But apparently, that isn’t the case.
Politico took a look at the difference between Warren’s supporters and Sander’s, and they are stark.
Generalizing broadly from various polls, these traits are the differences between Sanders voters and Warren supporters. Sanders’ supporters are more likely to be lower-income and lower-educated than Warren (who once served as a law professor at Harvard). Warren, by contrast, appeals to academics and post-graduate students.
Warren is also, perhaps unsurprisingly, much more popular among women. She also tends to appeal more to older, politically active voters. Sanders’ broadest base of support is younger and less likely to have voted recently.
Critically, Sanders has a huge leg up with African American voters. In fact, Sanders trails only former Vice President Joe Biden in support among that group. He leads even African American candidates like Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker with that demographic.
These differences are very significant for the future of the Democratic primary. Many assume that Sanders and Warren are fighting for a share of the same vote, and that whichever of the two survive the longest will inherit the other’s voters. Were that the case, they would be one of the strongest contenders in the race, as both are polling in the top five in every poll.
Unfortunately for progressives, it seems that these assumptions are off base. There’s no guarantee that Sanders voters will easily flock to Warren, or vice versa. It’s a concern, but not one that’s new to the campaigns themselves.
“I think people develop overly simplistic views of politics,” said Sanders campaign chief of staff Ari Rabin-Havt, “that presume that people who live in the real world think the same way as elite media in D.C. and New York.”
Fortunately for both campaigns, neither has made a habit of thinking like D.C. or New York elite. But their path to victory may not be as straightforward as many believe.
One of the significant progressive proposals of the campaign is Andrew Yang’s universal basic income. Where do you stand on the issue? Let us know in this poll.