U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has said time and time again that she is not running for president — even switching tenses to clarify that she “will not run” in addition to the fact that she’s “not running.”
That hasn’t stopped the urging by prominent activist groups. And it hasn’t stopped the speculation, and the headlines that result from polling that still shows her as a strong potential challenger in the Democratic primary next to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
So Monday’s new CNN/ORC poll of the 2016 race had a curious omission: For the first time in five 2016-themed polls, Warren’s name was not part of the list of potential Democratic candidates.
The results were illustrative. The combination of removing Warren from the list and the likely jolt Clinton received upon officially starting her campaign has helped Clinton consolidate support from nearly seven in 10 Democrats who responded to the survey.
That’s her best showing yet in the poll, up from 66 percent of Democrats who said in December that they would be most likely to support her.
Vice President Joe Biden, who has not yet made a decision on whether he’ll run, is way behind Clinton, grabbing just 11 percent of the vote. Next come U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (5 percent), former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (3 percent), former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (1 percent), and Lincoln Chafee, a former governor and U.S. senator from Rhode Island (1 percent).
Warren has become incredibly popular among the progressive Democratic base since she was elected to the Senate in 2012. Last month, the Working Families Party in New York joined two progressive organizations — MoveOn.org and Democracy for America — in calling for Warren to challenge Clinton. The “Run Warren Run” campaign has set up shop in the early-campaign states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and it boasts hundreds of thousands of signatures on a petition urging Warren to run.
The Boston Globe’s editorial board also urged Warren to run, writing in an editorial last month that it would be a “huge mistake” if she decided to sit out the race.
“And if Warren sticks to her refusal, she should make it her responsibility to help recruit candidates to provide voters with a vigorous debate on her signature cause, reducing income inequality, over the next year,” the editorial board wrote.
But despite all the chatter, Warren never really was close to Clinton in polling. And a key group of Democrats with which Clinton struggled during her last presidential run in 2008 — like young people — are continuing to show signs of rallying behind her potential candidacy. Fusion’s Massive Millennial Poll in February, which surveyed 1,000 people aged 18-34 about everything from politics to dating to race issues, found 38 percent of the millennials surveyed — including 57 percent of millennial Democrats surveyed in the poll — said they would support Clinton if she ran for president.
We asked CNN’s polling director why they decided on now to remove Warren’s name from the list now, instead of waiting longer or doing so when she disavowed her intentions to run previously this year. We’ll update this post if we get a response.
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.