According to the Boston Globe, the Democratic party seriously considered choosing Elizabeth Warren to give the 2012 Keynote speech. The responsibility went to a Texan mayor, which is probably a smart move. Warren will still have a major prime time role at the convention, introducing President Bill Clinton before his speech calling for the renomination of President Obama.
It seems to me that the Massachusetts Senate race serves as a litmus test. A while back, Nate Silver asked a question on twitter while watching a Republican debate.
Can we make Elizabeth Warren vs Scott Brown be the presidential race and let these dudes and Obama run for senate?
I came to the conclusion that if you support Elizabeth Warren over Scott Brown, you’re probably going to support any competent Democrat over any competent Republican. As a result you should be regarded as a partisan, and not an Independent. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re honest about your political opinions. But it demonstrates a preference for partisans over moderates. There would be an exception for those who really prefer her biography (in that case it would be understood that the decision had little to do with ideology), as well as single issue voters and people with unconventional political views, who might support an Elizabeth Warren because of her positions on a few key issues.
I can see an immediate advantage in elevating the stature of a candidate in a competitive Senate race in a state in which strong connections to the Democratic party and its presidential nominee will be a tremendous benefit. Senators in more conservative states like Bill Nelson of Florida or Claire McKaskill of Missouri would not appreciate suddenly being tied to the party with a major convention role. Hell, I’m not sure Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar or Ohio’s Sherrod Brown would be all that enthused about it.
If Warren gets a five point boost from a a speech to a national audience, the Democratic party’s chances of keeping the senate increase as well. Due to their success in 2006, they’re defending a lot of seats. After the losses in 2010, they have to win 20 out of 33 Senate races, as well as the presidency, just to keep their majority.
Warren’s influence on the Democratic party is clear, but I’m not sure it’s a good strategy. Her “You didn’t build that” argument has become the party’s mantra for 2012, recently echoed by President Obama. The Democrats are making someone who has a tough time winning in Massachusetts the face of their party. It would be like Republicans sending Indiana’s Richard Mourdock to represent the party on a national level. The base loves her, but I don’t know if it would be a good idea for Democrats to remind voters how much their activists disagree with around fifty percent of the voters in Massachusetts. In most other states, she would lose heavily to Brown, so it’s an interesting decision to incorporate her positions into elections that depend on those states.