Nevada Debate Win Does Little to Help Elizabeth Warren in Caucus Voting

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Elizabeth Warren’s Nevada debate performance may have breathed new life into her 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, but her bid still hangs in the balance.

Warren, 70, earned 12% of Nevada’s county convention delegates in Saturday afternoon’s caucuses, with 4% of precincts reporting. While the final vote tally and national delegate count are still being finalized, that showing ranks her in fourth place — well behind Nevada winner and 2020 front-runner Bernie Sanders, 78, with 45%.

“I’ve got a word for you, Nevada: Thank you for keeping me in the fight,” she told supporters in Seattle on Saturday evening. “We have a lot of states to go, and right now, I can feel the momentum.”

Congratulating Sanders, Warren dug into Michael Bloomberg, describing him not as a “tall” threat, but a “big one.”

“He’s not safe. He’s just rich,” she said of his claims he’s the Democratic Party’s best chance at defeating President Trump in the general election.

The Massachusetts senator, who was polling in fourth position ahead of the race’s third contest, drew the starkest contrasts between herself and Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who she described as an “arrogant billionaire,” during the Nevada debate.

Although political observers eagerly anticipate another matchup between Warren and Bloomberg during Tuesday’s debate ahead of the South Carolina primary next Saturday, Nevada’s results suggest she would have benefited from distinguishing herself more from Joe Biden, 77, and Pete Buttigieg, 38, since she rarely criticizes ideological ally Sanders.

Nevada was always going to be a challenge for the former Harvard Law School professor and consumer advocate given her struggles to appeal to large swaths of minority Democrats, most evident in public opinion surveys put in the field in South Carolina.

“I am not a woman of color. I never got thrown across a hood. I have the privilege of never having been slammed into the wall by a police officer,” she said in North Las Vegas, promising that wouldn’t “happen to human beings” if she were in the White House.

With eight delegates in her ledger to Sanders’s 41 before Nevada, Warren’s performance was foreshadowed by disappointing outings in Iowa and New Hampshire, where she finished third and fourth respectively. Her ground game, once touted for the depth and breadth of its organization, not only failed to turn out supporters in the first two early voting states, it was also hurt by high-profile departures of diverse Nevada staff who complained about feeling like minority token hires.

But Warren seems set on staying in Democratic contention for the presidency until at least March 3, when 14 states weigh in, scheduling stops next week in Super Tuesday states, including Texas. She has additionally earmarked $200,000 for advertising in the Lone Star State, Oklahoma, and Washington, with spots already being broadcast in Colorado and Maine.

That aligns with her team which, prior to New Hampshire, laid out its path toward the nomination that continued until this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. Yet the team couldn’t name a state that she could win between now and then.

Federal Elections Commission disclosure documents this week also shed light on the Warren campaign’s financial situation, revealing they had opened a $3 million line of credit in January. The credit was unused after the senator raised about $21 million so far in February, approximately $9 million of that since the debate.

The FEC filings coincided with the once staunchly anti-super PAC crusader refusing to denounce the Persist PAC for buying $800,000 of air time for pro-Warren ads in Nevada ahead of the caucuses.

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