A survey by the Pew Research Center this month found that about seven in 10 of Warren’s supporters are white, compared to about half of Sanders’ backers. Warren’s supporters are substantially more likely to have a college degree compared with supporters of Biden and Sanders.
John Zogby, a pollster and author, said: “Because of progressive ideology there is some sort of overlap, but they are different. Warren picks up support among women that ordinarily Sanders would not get, including former Clinton supporters who regard her as the bearer of the torch to get a woman elected.
“To assume that if one drops out, he or she would back the other is too facile. If Warren dropped out, she would probably consider that she had some leverage in the mainstream of the party and a chance to run again in the future, so would most likely endorse a mainstream figure like Biden.”
The senators have differences in style and substance. Warren embraces the term “capitalist” and is seen by some as less disruptive to corporate interests; Sanders characterises himself as a “democratic socialist” and offers fewer policy specifics. Warren refused to appear on Fox News; Sanders held a town hall on the network. Warren has just taken her 50,000th campaign selfie with supporters who wait in long lines; Sanders retains a curmudgeonly persona and showed little appetite for small talk at the recent Iowa state fair.
But when the duo, who remain fast friends, appeared together in the second debate in Detroit, distinctions appeared insignificant as they joined forces to fend off centrists on their support of policies such as Medicare for All, which would extend the existing government-run health insurance programme to all Americans, largely eliminating a role for private insurance.
In the end, however, even if the progressive dream comes true, there is bound to be disappointment and compromise for someone. Handy, 31, the former Ready for Warren activist, said: “In terms of the entire political spectrum, I would much prefer a Warren administration to a [Kamala] Harris administration or a second term of Trump. But that said, it just won’t go far enough.
“What this country needs now more than ever is what we had post-world war two with the building of the American middle class and FDR’s incredible social reform. That is what a Sanders administration will do, and my fear is that a Warren administration will not go far enough in addressing income inequality, in addressing criminal justice reform, in addressing our climate, in addressing all of these problems.”