BOSTON (SHNS) – A little over a year removed from coasting to a second term in the U.S. Senate, Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday suffered a damaging blow to her presidential campaign delivered by voters in her home state of Massachusetts, where she is projected to lose to former Vice President Joe Biden and could finish third behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The loss in Massachusetts is sure to amplify calls for Warren to exit the race, even as she and her campaign have talked about staying in “for the long haul” and have laid out a strategy reliant on there being no clear nominee heading into the July convention.
Warren voted in Cambridge on Tuesday morning before flying to Michigan, which votes next Tuesday, where she staged an evening rally in Detroit.
“Here’s my advice: cast a vote that will make you proud,” Warren said at the rally, urging voters in Michigan not to try to play the role of political pundit.
With almost 70 percent of the vote in Massachusetts counted, Biden was ahead with 33.6 percent to 27.2 percent for Sanders and 20.9 percent for Warren. New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a native of Medford with whom Warren has clashed sharply, was in fourth with just 11.6 percent, which would leave him shy of the 15 percent needed to receive any of the state’s 91 delegates.
Asked on her way to her local polling place Tuesday morning whether she was concerned about the possibility of losing Massachusetts to Sanders, Warren said, “I’m not worried. I’m happy to be a part of this democratic process.”
But Warren didn’t just lose to Sanders. She also lost to Biden, whose resurgent campaign had been polling a distant fifth in the last Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll over the weekend that had him behind even Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg, who wound up dropping out and endorsing Biden.
Warren’s failure to win at home makes her an anomaly in the long and storied history of presidential politics in Massachusetts, where virtually every home-state candidate since at least John F. Kennedy in 1960 has been able to carry Massachusetts.
The other exception to the rule was also on the ballot Tuesday night, though former Gov. William Weld was never really considered a viable challenger to President Donald Trump in the GOP primary. With more than half of all precincts reporting, Weld had about 9 percent of the Republican primary vote.
“President Trump’s projected margin of victory in the Massachusetts Republican primary is a statement,” said Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons. “Massachusetts is the one state where his opponent is known to virtually every Republican voter.”
Four years ago, Hillary Clinton defeated Sanders by a single percentage point in Massachusetts. This time around, Biden defied the polls in the run up to Super Tuesday as his campaign rode a wave of momentum out of South Carolina, where he won his first primary on Saturday.
The former vice president had the support of a number of state lawmakers and prominent party figures like former senator and Secretary of State John Kerry, Congressmen Seth Moulton and Stephen Lynch. After South Carolina, the Biden campaign announced the support of a number of state representatives, as well as Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Biden also picked up endorsements from Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Monday, who both dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden.
“For those folks who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign,” Biden said Tuesday night at a rally in Los Angeles. “Just a few days ago, the press and the pundits had declared the campaign dead.”
With Texas and Maine still too close to call, Biden had racked up a number of wins in the 14 states voting on Super Tuesday, while Sanders won California, the biggest delegate prize of the night. Biden also won North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota and Oklahoma, and Sanders won Vermont, Colorado and Utah.
Warren voted with her husband Bruce Mann and their golden retriever, Bailey: “We’ve been here to vote every time with that spark of hope in our hearts that the vote will matter. That we will build a better country. That’s what this election for me is all about.”
While Warren did not campaign in Massachusetts after the New Year’s Eve speech she gave at the Old South Meeting House, Sanders staged to back-to-back rallies in Springfield and Boston on Friday and Saturday as he looked to stage an upset.
Instead, Warren relied on surrogates like U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Joseph Kennedy III and Attorney General Maura Healey to organize and energize the party for her campaign.
Biden visited the state several times on fundraising trips, but did not hold any major rallies.
Galvin had predicted a turnout of about 1.5 million Democratic primary voters, and 350,000 on the Republican side. Unenrolled voters, who account for almost 56 percent of registered voters in Massachusetts, could have voted in either primary.
The final tally was not yet in, but Democratic Party Chairman Gus Bickford said that the “strong” turnout had sent a clear message.
“Democrats are energized and are eager to turn the page on the dark presidency of Donald Trump. An incredible number of voters cast ballots in this Democratic primary for President because while income inequality is growing, while climate change is destroying our planet, and while racial inequities are persisting, the policies of Donald Trump have only made these and other crises worse,” Bickford said.
Warren’s campaign manager Roger Lau said over the weekend that the senator had her biggest fundraising month of the cycle in February, pulling in over $29.3 million last month despite disappointing finishes in the first four voting states where the highest she placed was third in Iowa.
Lau said the strong February fundraising enabled the campaign to spend over $2.4 million on television and digital ads in Super Tuesday states, and the campaign has already reserved time in markets where voting will be taking place into April.
Warren’s campaign has suggested that it will play the long game, anticipating that no candidate will have the required number of delegates to automatically become the nominee before the convention in Milwaukee in July.
“But as the dust settles after March 3, the reality of this race will be clear: no candidate will likely have a path to the majority of delegates needed to win an outright claim to the Democratic nomination,” Lau wrote in an email to supporters. “Super Tuesday is the first test in March to amass delegates, but a week later we will be competing in six states, and a week after that another four that represent over 500 delegates up for grabs.”
Trump Victory spokesman Dain Pascocello said that Warren’s performance in Massachusetts stood in sharp relief to that of the president.
“While Republicans are united behind President Trump in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren couldn’t even convince the voters who know her best to support her. After tonight, the Democratic Party is more divided than ever as they figure out which socialist they want to lose to President Trump in November,” Pacocello said.
Warren is the first serious contender for president from Massachusetts not to win her home state primary since at least before John F. Kennedy in 1960.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney carried the state twice, including in 2012 when he went on to become the GOP nominee.
While he was a senator, Kerry also won Massachusetts in 2004 en route to his party’s nomination, as did the late Sen. Paul Tsongas in 1992 and former Gov. Michael Dukakis in 1988, though the latter two did not become the nominee.
The late Sen. Kennedy even prevailed in his home state in 1980 when he staged an ultimately failed bid to oust incumbent President Jimmy Carter.