- - Tuesday, January 7, 2020

In Washington, D.C., this weekend, the question I got from my fellow political junkies was “What’s the word from New Hampshire?”

And the answer is: “Not Warren.” And that’s a major problem for the Massachusetts pol.

On the upside, she’s the only Bay Stater to enter the 2020 race who has any chance of winning. Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton dropped out and former Gov. Patrick is still explaining to Democrats that Deval is his first name; while on the Republican side, former Gov. Bill Weld is working hard to lock down the Rachel Maddow wing of the Republican primary vote.

On the downside for Ms. Warren is, well, everything else.

Not only did all three of the presumed frontrunners (Bernie, Biden and Buttigieg) raise more money than Ms. Warren last quarter, they also boosted their previous quarter’s fundraising (Mr. Sanders by more than 35 percent) while Ms. Warren’s fell by 14 percent. 



And not just her fundraising. While there aren’t many recent early-state polls, the available data show Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden either on the rise or holding steady in New Hampshire, while Ms. Warren’s numbers have plunged. She’s at 18 percent, behind Mr. Sanders (27) and Mr. Biden (25) in the new CBS Battleground Tracker poll of New Hampshire Democrats. 

Ten weeks ago, Ms. Warren was in first place in the Granite State at 28 percent in the RealClearPolitics average. Today, she’s in fourth place at around 15 percent; she’s lost nearly 50 percent of her New Hampshire support.

New Hampshire Democratic pros are quick to remind anyone who’ll listen that the primary electorate is volatile and any predictions made before the results of the Iowa caucus are in might as well be made by your Magic 8-Ball. 

“Three words: John Kerry 2004,” Kathy Sullivan told me when I asked about Ms. Warren’s struggles in New Hampshire. “Make that six: Hillary Clinton 2008.”

Ms. Sullivan is New Hampshire’s Democratic National Committeewoman and a veteran of First In The Nation (#FITN) primaries. “New Hampshire loves comeback stories. Don’t count Elizabeth Warren out.”

But that doesn’t answer the question of how she got “out” in the first place. On paper, Ms. Warren’s the nearly-perfect 2020 New Hampshire candidate:

• Identity politics? Check. Hillary Clinton has a lot of fans in the Granite State still grumpy about her embarrassing loss to Mr. Sanders last time around. They would love to see a woman win.

• Progressive politics? Check. She’s blown past Mr. Sanders when it comes to tax-the-rich socialism, with a “two cents!” strategy every liberal can love.

• Geography politics? Check. The last major POTUS candidate from New England to not carry New Hampshire in their primary was … nobody. Even Paul Tsongas won. (Google him.)

• Passion politics? Double-check. The Democratic base wants to rumble, not make nice with Republicans. Is there anyone on the campaign stump who wants to fight more than Liz “Fighty McFighterson” Warren? If she weren’t running for POTUS, she’d probably be in court-ordered anger management classes by now.

So why is Ms. Warren, such a strong candidate on paper, so weak in the polls?

“It’s Medicare For All. It’s killing her,” one New Hampshire insider told me, and there’s no doubt fall in the polls began soon after the release of her $52 trillion “free health care” plan. But other candidates have problematic policy positions, too, from Bernie Sanders’ straight-up socialized medicine to Pete Buttigieg’s plan to pack the U.S. Supreme Court and get rid of the Electoral College.

The problem doesn’t appear to be with Ms. Warren’s policies, but with her personally. At some point in the process, she’s transformed from a principled warrior for the progressive cause to — and I’m not trying to be mean-spirited here — a politician. Someone who’s desperately trying to figure out what she has to say to get your vote.

In other words, she’s doomed.

• Michael Graham is politics editor of New Hampshire Journal. 

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