The focus is on Biden, who is exploring the prospect of a somewhat late entry into the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
The focus is wrong.
It should be on Warren.
If it should be anywhere at all.
The Biden speculation has hit something of a fever pitch, as some Democrats and a lot of commentators have begun to speculate about whether Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign is losing steam. But there is a good argument to be made that this talk about Clinton’s political “vulnerability” is inflated. The former secretary of state remains the clear leader in the race the Democratic nod. The same polls that put Clinton ahead in the race for the nomination have both Clinton and Biden beating prospective Republican nominees; Biden’s advantage is marginally stronger, but the numbers are within margins of error.
If concerns about Clinton were to escalate to a point where another prominent Democrat might see an opening, there is plenty of time to expand the field. Filing deadlines have not passed; the first debate has not even been held.
Biden would certainly be a credible late entry. He has immense experience, base voters are genuinely fond of him, and the man who trumped Paul Ryan in the 2012 vice presidential debate is undoubtedly prepared to take on even the most volatile Republican.
But if there is room for another contender, there is a solid case to be made for Warren.
There are at least two reasons for this:
First, Hillary Clinton’s backers have made a compelling argument that Democrats should nominate a woman for president in 2016—with an eye toward both equity and practical politics. The equity argument is well understood: The next president will be serving when the United States marks the 100th anniversary of the enactment of the 19th Amendment; it is clearly time to realize the full promise of that amendment. The practical political argument is equally well understood: When Democrats mobilize turnout among women voters, especially younger women voters, they benefit from a gender gap that in recent decades has often provided the party with its margins of victory. Clinton’s history of activism on behalf of women’s rights is one of her great strengths as a candidate. A 2014 Gallup Poll asked: “In your view, what would be the best or most positive thing about a Hillary Clinton presidency?” The most popular response was that she “would be the first woman president.” Were Clinton to stumble, there would remain a substantial constituency of women and men who believe that 2016 is the year when the United States should elect a woman as president. And there would also remain a substantial prospect that nominating a woman could help Democrats to mobilize the voters that are needed to win in November. After Clinton, Warren is arguably the Democratic Party’s most prominent women on the national stage. That’s not to say that every Clinton enthusiast would be a Warren enthusiast. But Warren could enter the race even in its later stages with standing and the prospect of attracting significant support—not just among progressive populists but among the establishment of a party that has welcomed her into the Senate leadership and that has relied on her as a favorite campaigner for Democrats in major races.