Why you shouldn’t underestimate Elizabeth Warren

August 6, 2013

When we first put freshman Sen. Elizabeth Warren on our rankings of the 10 Democrats most likely to wind up as the party's presidential nominee in 2016, many people scoffed.

She just got elected! She's not interested in running! It's too damn early! Get off my lawn! (All but that last one is true.)


Elizabeth Warren.

But, a new Quinnipiac poll proves why Warren would be formidable in 2016 if she decided to run. Using a feeling thermometer -- 0 meaning you feel totally cold about a politician, 100 meaning you feel warmly (aka) strong favorably toward a pol -- Quinnipiac tested the majority of major national figures.

Warren finished third -- behind only New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (53.1 degrees) and Hillary Clinton (52.1 degrees).  She finished ahead of, among others, President Obama, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Vice President Joe Biden.

Here's why the thermometer matters -- and matters for Warren in particular.  It's a measure of passion, which is, of course, the sine qua non of politics. While passion isn't everything -- fundraising matters, organization matters -- it's hard to get elected to anything without passionate supporters.

And, Warren quite clearly evokes that passion. Need examples beyond the poll? Warren collected more than $42 million for her 2012 Senate campaign, a massive sum that is indicative of the passion -- and national following -- that Warren evokes. Then there is the speech she gave at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, which, if you forgot, was among the best received addresses of the gathering.

All of the above is not to say Warren is running for president. She has avoided most national press -- and the press more generally -- since coming to Washington and her political team insist that she is genuinely un-intrigued by a run for president.

We buy that. But, we have watched  campaigns long enough to understand that the ability to evoke genuine, organic passion in potential voters is the rarest and most critical of all candidate characteristics. Warren has that ability, whether or not she wants to use it in 2016 -- or beyond.

Fixbits: 

New Hampshire state Sen. Jeb Bradley (R) told Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) he's preparing to challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), but later said he was joking when he told King "rumors are true" that he will challenge Shaheen.

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) will go on the air this week.

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) will either run for reelection or governor.

A 10th woman has accused San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) of sexual harassment.

New Jersey Gov Chris Christie (R) revealed his lowest moment.

Montana state schools superintendent Denise Juneau (D) won't run for the Senate, leaving Democrats still in search of a candidate.

Chelsea Clinton is aiming for a "purposely public" life.

EMILY's List is endorsing six House candidates: Staci Appel (Iowa's 3rd district); Erin Bilbray (Nevada's 3rd district); Ann Callis (Illinois' 13th district); Gwen Graham (Florida's 2nd district); Eloise Reyes (California's 31st district); and Martha Robertson (New York's 23rd district).

 Must-reads: 

"Filner response to allegation: 'What?!!'" -- Trent Seibert, U-T San Diego

"Michigan's Land could self-finance 2014 GOP Senate bid" -- Marisa Schultz, Detroit News

Updated at 10:21 a.m.

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