State of the 2016 Race
A weekly column for The Hill analyzing the current state of the 2016 presidential race.
The Democratic race: Why Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Six big off-year elections you might be missing Republican spin on Biden is off the mark MORE (D-Mass.) will run in 2016 against former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSuper PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump I voted for Trump in 2020 — he proved to be the ultimate RINO in 2021 Neera Tanden tapped as White House staff secretary MORE.
1. Warren is the only national politician today from either party who conveys a sense of outrage over our current — deteriorating — national situation. Her passion is her signature calling card in a time when all the other candidates for president seem to have passion only for themselves and their candidacies.
2. At a recent 12-person in-depth focus group in Denver conducted by Peter Hart and reported in The Washington Post by Dan Balz, the only national politician who was viewed favorably was Warren — even by some of the Republican voters in the focus group.
3. Why? Because she is the only politician who is even talking about the powerlessness of the average person — and the seemingly too powerful corporate and Wall Street entities.
4. This issue cuts across all political lines. It is the issue that catapulted President Teddy Roosevelt into the political hall of fame. His trust busting led to today's anti-trust regulations and the belief that the federal government's role is to act as a neutral referee to ensure a fair playing field. But no one today believes the feds are neutral — or fair. Instead, big government is seen as corrupt and as "rigged" as big business.
5. Indeed, there isn't that much that separates Occupy Wall Street from the Tea Party. One blames big business while the other blames big government for our problems. But more and more, people see the two as in bed with each other in a cynical game to line their own pockets and to preserve their power — all at the expense of the average American.
6. This underlying fear is the hidden issue in the 2016 race — and so far, only Warren is even talking about it.
7. Her solution is murky — and probably will be more government regulation — but so far, she isnt being asked to provide specifics. Instead, she has a current monopoly on this topic while all the other candidates — including Clinton — seem basically oblivious to it.
8. Speaking of Clinton, as someone put it: "Hillary and her campaign are a large balloon floating around in search of a pin."
9. That pin will be Warren, who in 2016 will be 67 years old. It is now-or-never time for her to run. If she defers, as she now claims to be doing, it is unlikely she gets another shot at the White House. Her moment — and the stars — align now for her to puncture that Clinton balloon with precisely the issue that Warren understands: Hillary and Bill Clinton have sold their money-grubbing souls to Wall Street. The left wing of the Democratic Party — those who attend the Iowa caucus and vote in snowy New Hampshire in February — will choose Warren over Hillary Clinton.
10. Former Bill Clinton pollster Doug Schoen last week published two specific polls of 400 likely Democratic Iowa caucus-goers and 400 likely New Hampshire primary voters. The results prove that Warren could knock off Hillary Clinton in these two states. Indeed, Clinton is much more vulnerable than these useless national polls — like the recent CNN/ORC poll that showed her ahead 66 percent to 9 percent — that only measure name ID.
11. In Iowa, Clinton – who has already run a statewide campaign there in 2008 — led Warren 51 percent to 36 percent. That 51 percent is not very impressive for a national celebrity figure like Clinton. On issues and message, Clinton only led 35 percent to 31 percent.
12. In New Hampshire, Clinton — who won the Granite State's 2008 primary — only leads Warren by 9 percentage points, 51 percent to 42 percent, but when the message about Wall Street is factored in, Warren actually leads 47 percent to 42 percent.
13. In other words, Warren conceivably could beat Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire — a feat that does not take that much money as they are small states — which would indeed be a death knell to Clinton's campaign.
14. So here is the big question: Will Elizabeth Warren run — after repeatedly saying she is not running?
15. The answer is simple: Everyone in politics — despite denials — actually wants to be the president of the United States. But few have the opportunity. Warren is now uniquely positioned — as Barack Obama was in 2007 and 2008 — to take on the presumptive frontrunner on a specific issue (Obama's was Clinton's support of the war in Iraq) that plays to her strength and exploits Clinton's weakness.
16. Thus, despite all the denials, it is inevitable that at some point this year, Warren will come to the conclusion that she must run against Clinton in 2016.
17. She has nothing to lose. The worst that happens to her if she runs and loses to Clinton is that she becomes the "black sheep" of the Clinton Democratic Party; Bill Clinton could treat her the way he has treated former Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) for the past six years. But so what? She'll still be a U.S. senator.
18. Because she is sincere in her passion, she will decide to run — no matter the potential political downside.
19. Whether she succeeds is a different story. But we know — from Schoen's polls — that she could defeat Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire. After that, who knows?
20. Right now — today — Elizabeth Warren is repeatedly considering this possibility. She is being dragged by political reality and her own inner passion to do something she may not at first really want to do. But she knows that she must do it — and that is why, at some point in the next six months or so, she will announce that she is challenging Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Former Rep. LeBoutillier (R-N.Y.) is the co-host of "Political Insiders" on Fox News channel, Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. He will be writing weekly pieces in the Contributors section on the "State of the 2016 Race."