Just How Unpopular is Elizabeth Warren?

Since announcing her presidential exploratory committee last week, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has faced a lot of flack from a lot of people — the woman who was once considered a favorite to win the Democratic nomination has now come under fire for two things: DNA tests concerning her supposed Native American heritage, and (in what many consider to be thinly veiled sexism) her similarities to Hillary Clinton.

Yet on Monday, CNN political analyst Harry Enten offered a different reason to be skeptical of Warren’s chances going into 2020: voters in Massachusetts don’t like her very much.

Enten pointed to Warren’s margin of victory in November’s midterms; even though she still won re-election by 24 points, that was substantially below what would be “expected” of a well-known incumbent in a cycle favorable to Democrats. Since then, others have given similar takes about Warren, suggesting that it would be wiser for Democrats to nominate a candidate popular on their own turf.

Of course, this is nothing new, as winning a home state is often essential to a candidate’s viability going forward — Minnesota was literally the only state that Celyon native Walter Mondale carried in 1984, and presidential hopefuls tend to end their campaigns if they finish poorly in their home state’s primary.

But compared to other Democratic front runners in 2020, just how unpopular among her constituents is Elizabeth Warren?


Well…that’s sort of hard to answer, and it’s not hard to see why. After all, there currently doesn’t exist much in-state polling of this nature: for Harris, Sanders, and Warren, I had to rely on the Morning Consult’s October tracking poll of Senators’ approval ratings; O’Rouke’s numbers came from the last Texas Tribune poll of the 2018 cycle; and because Biden hasn’t truly run for office in over a decade, so there’s nothing recent to go off of.

Out of the numbers we do have, though, Warren isn’t as far behind as some may claim. In fact, her 50% approval rating places her in the top 20 Senators of the Morning Consult’s poll, beating out names like Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, all of whom are being tossed around as potentials for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

At the end of the day, a candidate’s home state approval is only one measure, and not too integral to deciding how the Electoral College ultimately plays out. Rather, for a better indicator, I suggest looking at nationwide polls that ask the same question:


And what do you know? The latest from Quinnipiac also doesn’t look great for Warren; despite comparatively strong name recognition, she still has a net negative overall score. Furthermore, out of the four candidates with entries in both charts, she sees the second-largest dip between approval in home state vs. the nation. Elizabeth Warren is 17 points more popular among Bay Staters!

In this post, I’ve spit out a lot of data, but the most important part is this: all things considered, Warren is relatively popular among her constituents, but not very well-liked by the country as a whole, and that difference in favorability is substantial.

In short, there are a lot of reasons Elizabeth Warren is a strong candidate, and there are also a lot of reasons she isn’t. But “people in Massachusetts dislike her” doesn’t appear to be one.

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