Elizabeth Warren has had perhaps the most wide appeal in this year's presidential race. She often polled as the most popular second choice candidate, but that hasn't, thus far, translated into her receiving enough first choice votes. And nobody has been more systematically erased by the media, not even Kamala Harris, who also received, shall we say, curious media coverage. And what could it possibly be that they have in common?
But Warren's appeal has crossed the boundaries of what most pundits facepalmingly consider ideological lanes. She is both liberal and pragmatic. She is idealistic and a wonk's wonk. She is passionate and a true intellectual. She has strong opinions, but when someone is even better than her on an issue, she’s confident and sensible enough to adopt their ideas wholesale, and credit them, as she did with Jay Inslee’s climate plan. People on the left like her, and people who are impressed by detailed knowledge like her. On issue after issue, she has a substantive plan, and those plans are visionary and progressive.
And so it is that there should not be any presumptions about where her voters would go if she were not in the race. My guess is that both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders would pick up a lot of her supporters, and in the end it might even be a wash. And so it also is that many of her supporters who prefer Biden are torn on this election day, because they want to vote with their hearts, but if Warren doesn't have a path, they also want to help ensure that Biden does.
Tactical voting has been receiving a lot of criticism, but in parliamentary systems it's quite common. In the recent British election, the Greens, the Liberal Democrats, and Plaid Cymru made a deal to vote tactically for each other's candidates, where Tories could be beaten, but Labour refused to join them. And we all know how that worked out.
Tactical voting can be valuable. Tactical voting can be smart. But in California— by far the richest delegate prize in the Democratic primary system— tactical Warren supporters don't need to worry about their vote hurting Biden. California's system of allocating delegates means that if Warren meets the viability threshold of 15%, she will get a chunk of statewide delegates, and thus reduce what is expected to be a big haul for Sanders. If she isn't viable because some of her votes go to Biden, that Sanders haul will not be as significantly reduced. It doesn't make sense, but that's the rules of the game.
The same rules that ultimately could cost a plurality Sanders winner the nomination, also in some places benefit him where he gets more delegates than his raw vote totals would proportionally suggest. The system is rigged. For and against everyone. And in California, Sanders could benefit if Biden receives enough Warren supporters' votes to deny her viability. So, from a purely tactical standpoint, the answer is clear:
If you're a tactical California voter, and your heart is with Warren but your second choice is Biden, the smart tactical vote is to stick with your heart and vote Warren.
If you're a Biden supporter, vote for Biden. He still needs all your votes.
If you're a Bloomberg supporter,... WTF? Seriously?
And if you're a Sanders supporter, the election is next week, so you can take today off. Just kidding. Go out today and vote for Bernie.
And may the best woman win. Or the best man named Joe. Yeah, I have my preferences, too.