Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is surging in recent polls, overtaking her colleague and friend, Bernie Sanders for second place in Florida Atlantic University poll (story HERE). She now only trails the front runner, former Vice President Joe Biden in the large field of candidates.
If you’ve been watching the debates, you can see why. Warren has been the “Happy Warrior” who presents a high energy and optimistic message for Democrats, meanwhile Biden has been on the defensive for the last 6-7 hours of stage time, getting in contentious verbal exchanges with Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, and others.
However, if Elizabeth Warren is to be considered a serious threat to beat Biden in the primary here in Florida, and later Donald Trump in the general election, her message will have to change
You see, Joe Biden’s moderate message is a better fit for middle of the road voters here in Florida, who ultimately decide close elections. Elizabeth Warren still can’t clearly explain how to pay for her big plans regarding health care, the environment, and tuition debt reconciliation.
Maybe she can, but she won’t. It’s because these big plans are going to cost big money and it’s going to have to come from somewhere. You can tax corporations all you like, but the effects will trickle down to the middle class. Floridians recognize this.
Last year, Democratic Gubernatorial nominee, Andrew Gillum, also had big plans. He was very forward about how expensive these proposals were. “Just one billion” he’d say while talking about the costs. To many moderates, he was likeable, but ultimately too much of a risk for Floridians in a generally strong economy.
A Warren campaign in the I4 corridor could meet the same result.
So, what does she have to do beat Joe Biden and Donald Trump in Florida?
She’ll have to embrace Obama-centric policies (the last Presidential Dem nominee to win the state twice), while not scaring off progressives. She has enough credibility with that group already.
Kamala Harris was right with one dig at Joe Biden during the last debate. She told him that he needs to start saying “we can”. Unfortunately for Biden he can’t explore any ideas that would appear to modify anything the former President accomplished without looking bad himself.
Elizabeth Warren can.
She can explore the middle ground on issues like immigration, health care, and the environment while saluting Obama and taking votes from Biden and Bernie Sanders. That’s what she’s doing now.
She can say “we can” with a credibility on the stump that is good enough to win the primary and not burn bridges with moderates and independents in the general election here in Florida.
It’s what Ron DeSantis is doing on the Republican side. He’s popular right now with a variety of voters, and he’s one of the President’s favorite allies.
You can have both in Florida. We’ve seen it done.
That’s what Elizabeth Warren will have to do if she’s a real option for Florida voters.