This Is Why Donald Trump Would Beat Elizabeth Warren In 2020

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.
Amanda Carpenter is an author, political advisor, and former senior staffer to Senators Jim DeMint and Ted Cruz. The views expressed here are her own.

Progressives love, love, love Elizabeth Warren. But let me tell you a secret: Republicans do, too. Theirs is a self-interested kind of affection, of course, founded on completely different motivations. The GOP is excited about Warren precisely because she’s viewed as a beatable political adversary — a less appealing, watered down facsimile of Hillary Clinton. In fact, the first horse race poll of the 2020 presidential race, released by Politico today, has Donald Trump (who, it bears mentioning, has a historically low approval rating) beating Warren by a full six points. But inevitable comparisons to Clinton aren’t the only reason Republicans think their yet-to-be-decided candidate could triumph over Warren in a bid for her Senate seat, and potentially the presidency. Warren’s very public image is a serious liability. Her professorial-style haranguing might be a hit with coastal urbanites, but it misses the mark in Middle America, where she comes off as the ultimate caricature of Northeastern elitism. Her blustering plays a big part in that reputation — and often enough, it makes her look foolish. Who could forget that time she taunted Donald Trump by clucking like a chicken, calling the then-presidential candidate a “small, insecure money-grubber” as well as a “selfish little sleazeball”? Those theatrics might delight her supporters, but they look silly and undignified to those outside of her base. Maybe she’s trying to mimic Donald Trump’s bullying ways, thinking if it worked for him, it will work for her, too. But it’s awfully hard for Warren to credibly criticize juvenile behavior she exhibits herself. There’s a word for that: "hypocrisy." Her antics might seem laughable in the context of a Saturday Night Live sketch, but the real-world damage to her reputation is far from funny. Even resident MSNBC liberal and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski has admitted she is “getting tired” of Warren’s act, saying that the Senator's application of anger can make her seem "unmeasured" and "almost unhinged." For evidence of Brzezinski’s comments, look no further than last week’s debate regarding the confirmation of Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) as Attorney General. When Warren took to the lectern to read Coretta Scott King’s letter, written in 1986 and accusing Sessions of outright racist bigotry, she was asked to stop, per Senate rules against impugning a fellow senator. What happened next was viewed through two lenses, one blue and one red. Liberals saw Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) silencing Warren because he feared her message. But conservatives didn’t think McConnell was afraid — quite the opposite. They saw a lawmaker who not only felt justified protecting comity in the upper chamber, but also didn’t believe there was any downside to taking away Warren's microphone. Why should conservatives fear a person who poses so little threat?

Forget about how she’d do in a 2020 presidential race. Good luck fighting the possible return of Romney in 2018, Liz.

Warren simply isn’t striking an intimidating figure these days, mostly because she makes herself an easy punchline. Take, for example, the controversy centering on her ethnic heritage. Armed with family anecdotes but no legitimate documentation, she has long claimed Native American ancestry, going so far as to classify herself as a minority in the Association of American Law Schools directory. (Her evidence is less than compelling.) But what really makes Republicans gleeful isn’t that Warren might have her ethnic history wrong. It’s the absurdity of a white woman passing herself off as a minority to an academic community. That hypocrisy — there’s that word again — makes it all too easy for opponents to ridicule Warren’s commitment to both diversity and affirmative action, two issues Republicans would love to take off the table in the next election. All of this boils down to the fact that, while progressives that take Warren seriously, Republicans definitely do not — and, at least at the moment, they aren’t paying a price for that stance. Has Trump suffered for referring to Warren as “Pocahontas”? Not at all. His base, which successfully sent him to the White House, never tires of the joke. What consequences did McConnell bear from gagging her on the Senate floor? A couple hundred protesters outside his house — annoying, to be sure, but in Washington that's a pretty run-of-the-mill Tuesday. Ultimately, Warren received another round of applause from her echo chamber, while the GOP got its conservative Attorney General. It’s not hard to see who came out on top in that round. Warren may have another, more devastating loss on her horizon. Actual voters — i.e. real people, not professional politicos in D.C. or NYC — aren’t digging Warren as the front woman of the new progressive resistance. A January WBUR poll showed that 46% of Massachusetts voters want to see someone new in her seat. That means, as early as next year, Republicans could handily knock one of the left’s liberal icons out of the game. Forget about how she’d do in a 2020 presidential race. Good luck fighting the possible return of Romney in 2018, Liz. On top of everything else, Warren’s record in Washington could crumble under the Trump Administration. Her crowning legislative achievement — the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — is at the top of the GOP’s budget chopping block. Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R.-Tex.), who has jurisdiction over these issues, characterized the CFPB as an unconstitutional “rogue agency” that should be “functionally terminated” with a simple majority vote in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece. It’s rare for any government program to be truly repealed in Washington, and even rarer yet for a legislator to suffer the humiliation of watching an entire agency she created be dismantled while she’s still in office. That’s quite the distinction Warren is on the verge of earning — and a stunning example of professional failure. All things considered, the GOP would be lucky to have Elizabeth Warren as an opponent on the democratic ticket. She’s clearly vulnerable to criticism both personal and political, her CFPB triumph may soon be a relic of the Obama era, and her phony grandstanding is more comical than it is powerful. It’s no wonder that Republicans love that Warren is becoming the de facto leader of the left. The truth is that she makes it seem all too easy for Republicans to win. Related Video:

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series