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Elizabeth Warren is the favored VP pick among Democrats, poll shows

Warren ranks above Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and Stacey Abrams as a preferred running mate for Joe Biden.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a town hall meeting in Miami, Florida, on June 25, 2019.
Rhona Wise/AFP via Getty Images
Emily Stewart covered business and economics for Vox and wrote the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren may not be the likeliest vice-presidential pick for Joe Biden, but she’s emerging as the running mate Democratic voters would prefer most — and who they believe would be best for the job.

In a Data for Progress poll shared exclusively with Vox, the Massachusetts senator ranked first as the vice-presidential candidate likely Democratic voters think is most ready to be president and would be best at handling the coronavirus pandemic and implementing policies, including those that benefit working-class people.

Forty-two percent of poll respondents said they believe Warren is most ready to be president, followed by Sen. Kamala Harris at 15 percent, Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 9 percent, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams at 7 percent, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at 4 percent, and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto at 3 percent. Nearly 20 percent of respondents said they didn’t know. Warren ranks significantly better than the other candidates surveyed across gender, age, and education. But among black voters, she is basically tied with Harris and Abrams.

Data for Progress

Warren outpolled the other potential contenders on nearly every measure. She’s the most preferred vice presidential candidate, with 31 percent support, and the pick Democrats are likeliest to say would make them more inclined to vote for Biden. It is also worth noting that Warren is among the vice presidential contenders with the highest name identification among voters — she ran for president for longer than most of the 2020 field, and she’s a famous figure.

Warren endorsed Biden in April, saying in an endorsement video the former vice president “knows that a government run with integrity, competence, and heart will save lives and save livelihoods.” In the video, she also nodded at their past disagreements. “One thing I appreciate about Joe Biden is that he will always tell you where he stands. When you disagree, he’ll listen — and not just listen, but really hear you, and treat you with respect no matter where you’re coming from.”

Warren, who suspended her own White House run in March, has also been open that she would agree to be Biden’s running mate if asked.

Data for Progress conducted the survey of 605 Democratic likely voters using web panel respondents on April 26. The results have been weighted, and the margin of error is ± 3.9 percent.

Elizabeth Warren would be a highly capable vice president. But politically, she might not be the best pick.

So here is the thing about Elizabeth Warren: She is an incredibly competent politician and policy wonk. She went from being a school teacher to a Harvard law professor, was a crucial player in congressional oversight of the 2008 bailout, conceived of and helped build the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and is among the most focused and shrewd lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

On the campaign trail, she rolled out plan after plan to address dozens of issues, and even after wrapping her presidential bid, the plans keep coming. As the country responds to the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic crisis it’s brought with it, Warren is someone many people would want to have in the room shaping decisions and coming up with ideas. She understands the levers of power within the government better than many. And as a political pick for Biden, she appeals to the progressive voters he is looking to court.

But Warren also has some political drawbacks as a potential VP pick. Biden’s electoral college path to the White House runs through a mix of the Rustbelt and the Sunbelt, As Vox’s Ella Nilsen wrote, it’s not clear an “unapologetic liberal Democrat representing Massachusetts” will be a boost on that front. She’s very useful and effective in the Senate, and it’s not clear she would be more so as a vice president.

Moreover, Massachusetts has a Republican governor who would be charged with choosing a temporary replacement if she gives up her seat. The governor would have to hold a special election 145 to 160 days after a vacancy arises, but that also covers the first 100 days of a presidency. Biden has said he will definitely choose a woman to be his running mate, but he’s also come under pressure to choose a woman of color.

Whatever Biden’s choice, this latest poll shows that many Democrats do, indeed, like Elizabeth Warren, and they view her as the most capable VP pick to do the job of president if need be or at least, the potential candidate that they are most familiar with. Of course, Democrats also had the choice of having her as their presidential nominee. But that ship has sailed.

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