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Elizabeth Warren’s Dropping out of Democratic Race for President, so Who Will Get her Votes? It’s complicated.

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Warren’s Misfortunes Stimulate Pressure for Her to Drop Out

In what turned out to be the final rally of her presidential campaign, Elizabeth Warren had some advice for more than 2,000 voters jammed into a giant shed at Detroit’s famed Eastern Market.

Instead of tracking the horse race talk and pundit predictions, Warren said they should, “cast a vote that will make you proud, cast a vote from the heart.”

Her plea may still apply, but another candidate will become the beneficiary after news surfaced Thursday that Warren is ending her campaign following a series of stinging defeats on Super Tuesday highlighted by a disastrous third-place finish in her native Massachusetts.

So, who will pick up support from the folks who have proclaimed, “I’m a Warren Democrat?” That is, as they say, a bit complicated.

On the surface, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would stand to gain the most. After all, he and Warren largely agree on many of the issues (“Medicare For All,” free college tuition, wiping out college debt and the Green New Deal), and the two long have considered each other friends.

But all of Warren’s supporters moving over to Sanders is far from a foregone conclusion.

Morning Consult’s regular polling bears this out, as it asks voters for their No. 2 choice. The most recent survey found 40% of Warren’s supporters favored Sanders as their next-best candidate, followed by 16% for former Vice President Joe Biden, 16% for former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and 12% for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. (The survey, conducted Feb. 23-27, concluded before Buttigieg and Klobuchar exited the race).

Add those totals together, however, and 44% of Warren’s voters favor a No. 2 candidate not named Sanders. Put another way, a larger share of her voters supported Biden or a candidate who since has endorsed him as their second choice over Sanders.

Another key consideration is the type of voters from whom Warren draws the most support, perhaps best illustrated in the Super Tuesday exit polls in Massachusetts, where voters know her best. Biden won the state and Sanders finished second. As such, Warren did not lead in virtually all polling categories with voters.

The one exception: white, college-educated women. Warren won 40% of that vote, followed by Biden with 26% and Sanders with 21%. And while she lost that demographic in many other states, it consistently proved to be the area where she received the most support.

“I’m the stereotypical white, college-educated, suburbanite … that she gets,” joked Marianne Rzepka after watching Warren’s speech in Detroit. “I like her, because she’s passionate, she’s smart, she’s been through a lot, so she actually believes it. She used to be a Republican, then she realized, ‘Hey, something’s wrong.’ I like that.”

Michigan is the largest prize on the primary calendar Tuesday, with 125 delegates at stake, and Warren drew more than 2,000 people to her Detroit rally. She took the stage there on Super Tuesday before most of the results had come in — including in her native Massachusetts.

Rzepka said she liked Warren’s speech and is a committed supporter with a yard sign and bumper sticker, but was surprised she didn’t “hit Trump and Bernie more” in it. Asked who she’ll support if Warren ended her campaign and the choice came down to Biden and Sanders, she didn’t hesitate, “I’m Biden.”

“Bernie is inflexible, grumpy and scary in his own way,” said Rzepka, 68, a retired newspaper reporter who lives in Ann Arbor. “You know what you would get with Biden.”

Toss in some tough feelings between Warren and Sanders in recent months and an increased level of vitriol between their supporters online and the decision for some Warren voters may get more convoluted.

Plus, in the hours after Super Tuesday, some top Sanders surrogates tried to ratchet up the heat on Warren to get out as part of a perceived effort to have progressives rally around Sanders in the way moderates have united behind Biden.

“Imagine if the progressives consolidated last night like the moderates consolidated, who would have won?” tweeted a top Sanders ally, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, after Biden won her home state of Minnesota. “That’s what we should be analyzing. I feel confident a united progressive movement would have allowed for us to #BuildTogether and win MN and other states we narrowly lost.”

Warren, of course, was the only progressive left in the race by Omar’s definition.

For his part, Sanders sought to allay the tensions, noting that he had called Warren on Wednesday morning and thought she deserved the “time and space” to make a decision on whether to continue her campaign — a phrase that was identical to a statement released by Warren’s campaign manager.

Among voters who described themselves as liberal, Warren lost to Sanders in all of the states that voted Tuesday, including Massachusetts. In some states, she also trailed Biden, according to the exit polls.

Diane Collins and Ed Menta fall into the unabashedly liberal category.

After most of the room at Warren’s Detroit rally had emptied out, the two retirees turned Warren campaign volunteers waited to meet up with their caravan and make the two-hour drive east back to Kalamazoo.

Collins, 80, said the event marked the first time she’d seen Warren in person, calling it “goose bumpy.”

“She just seems so genuine to me. She’s a real person,” Collins said. “I really do believe she’d look out for the working person, and not just get to the White House and play golf. She’s just fabulous.”

Menta said he’s been a longtime Warren supporter, “because she consistently highlights the tremendous economic inequality in the USA,” though he was disappointed she didn’t mention the Flint water crisis during her speech.

Asked who they would support if Warren dropped out, the two immediately said “Bernie” in unison.

“Warren and Sanders represent systemic change, not just going back to the way things were before Trump. That’s not the problem,” Menta said. “The problem is the massive economic inequality in the United States, which affects everything. I think the Democratic Party establishment is terrified of Bernie Sanders.”

While Collins lamented that Sanders is constantly “grouchy,” she said she wouldn’t hesitate to vote for him.

“Bernie stands for the same values that Elizabeth does,” she said. “Plus, I cannot see Biden on a stage debating with Trump face-to-face. Are you kidding me? He doesn’t think on his feet. He has to be coached. You can tell. I just think Trump would eat him up.”

While Collins, Menta and many other Warren supporters cite her emphasis on economic inequality, many top Sanders supporters have tried to draw the distinction that Warren isn’t the true candidate of the working class.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, a democratic socialist on the Chicago City Council, put it this way: “Bernie Sanders has the most diverse and working class base. If you look at who is supporting Elizabeth Warren, it’s overwhelmingly upper income white folks, older folks. If you look at who is supporting Bernie, it’s low income Walmart workers, it’s black folks, it’s Latino folks, it’s young folks.”

Susan Carney arrived to Warren’s Detroit rally undecided, but left leaning toward voting for the Massachusetts senator. Afterward, Carney said she liked what she heard, but ignored Warren’s advice to discount the predictions, pundits and delegate math.

“It doesn’t look like she’s going to make it to a place where she’s going to be on the ballot against Trump unless she somehow gets a lot of delegates, but I came here because I wanted to hear more from her,” said Carney, 59, who lives in Ann Arbor and works in communications. “Of the progressive part of the Democratic Party, if you can include Bernie in that, she’s the more reasonable one.”

Asked what she’s looking for in a candidate, Carney replied, “I hate to say this, but I’m looking for somebody who can beat Donald Trump.”

She said she usually votes with her heart and liked Warren, Klobuchar and Buttigieg. Asked what she’d do if Warren exits the race, Carney said she’d pick Mike Bloomberg over Biden because of his experience running New York City and the many improvements he made there.

What if Bloomberg dropped out (which, by the way, he did)?

“If it’s between Biden and Sanders, I have to go with Biden,” she said. “I think Bernie is making promises I don’t see how he could keep, and in some ways I think if Trump is over here on this side and Sanders is way over here on this side, I don’t know if that’s better — it’s just different.

“I’d be comfortable with Biden if he were president,” Carney concluded, “but I’m not sure very much would change.”

[email protected]

Twitter @BillRuthhart

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