Since Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren announced her run in January, her campaign has rolled out detailed policy plans on a near-weekly basis, and voters are beginning to notice.
“(Warren) is kind of a policy wonk, and she’s got plans, and I like her plans — and she’s also figured out how she’s going to pay for them,” Susan Hay, a Keene career coach, said Monday after going door to door to volunteer for the U.S. senator from Massachusetts over the weekend.
Hay, who supported U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the 2016 Democratic primary, said she started supporting the Bay State senator a few months ago because of Warren’s longtime commitment to progressive causes and consistent output of policy proposals.
Other issues Warren has presented plans on range from curbing corporate influence at the Pentagon to investing $100 billion in states hit by the opioid crisis and even topics that rarely come up on the campaign trail, like providing debt relief to Puerto Rico.
Warren is not the only candidate to step out early in the race with policy details, but the scale and scope of her white-paper-style reports continue to outpace rival campaigns.
Some of her fellow presidential hopefuls have put forth highly detailed plans and built messaging around signature issues, such as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s “Baby Bonds” plan, California Sen. Kamala Harris’ gender pay gap and teacher salary raise proposals and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s ”Democracy Dollars” voucher system to publicly finance campaigns.
Meanwhile, tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang has more than 100 short items on his campaign website on where he stands on issues from paying some NCAA student athletes to net neutrality, with some going on for paragraphs and others for just a few sentences.
Other campaigns have faced criticism for being light on substance and are often asked in venues such as CNN town halls whether they support Warren’s proposals.
The next space race?
Warren’s green manufacturing plan is part of her broader campaign push for “economic patriotism,” a guiding philosophy that holds politicians to task for the outsourcing of American jobs and economic insecurity across the country rather than pinning the blame on globalization, automation or the so-called skills gap.
“The truth is that Washington policies — not unstoppable market forces — are a key driver of the problems American workers face,” Warren writes in a blog post outlining her economic vision on the website Medium. “From our trade agreements to our tax code, we have encouraged companies to invest abroad, ship jobs overseas, and keep wages low. All in the interest of serving multinational companies and international capital with no particular loyalty to the United States.”
The American manufacturing sector would receive a $2 trillion investment for pursuing renewable energy within 10 years under Warren’s plan.
With the overarching goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to curb the effects of climate change, Warren’s pitch includes a “Green Apollo Program” that would provide $400 billion, in the same 10-year period, dedicated to green technology research and development.
Her comparison of addressing climate change to the Space Race between the U.S. and Soviet Union in the mid-20th century echoes her support for the Green New Deal, while she also offers her own specific remedies.
The “Green Marshall Plan” component of this latest proposal, alluding to the effort to rebuild Europe after World War II, offers incentives for foreign countries to purchase American clean energy technology and would establish a new federal office dedicated to selling renewable American exports.
The public spending would be paid for by her “real corporate profits tax,” which would take seven cents from every dollar of corporate profits above $100 million.
As the Warren campaign has rolled out more policy papers, the candidate has steadily risen in both national and early state polls, with some of her gains over the past two months coming from Sanders supporters.
In the latest Monmouth University poll from May, Warren crept into fourth place in New Hampshire behind South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sanders and former vice president Joe Biden. In the more frequent Tel Opinion Research tracking polls, she was just 1 percent behind Sanders in third place in the Granite State as of May 22, with a 4 percent margin of error.
But Hay said the cumulative effect of Warren’s aggressive campaigning in the Granite State and leaning into substance have put her toward the top of the field, at least according to voters she has spoken with recently.
“I didn’t talk to one person who she wasn’t in the top three for,” Hay said of her canvassing over the weekend.
Cheshire County Democratic Committee Chairman Carl DeMatteo added that Warren’s retail campaigning is paying off.
“What I think people have commented to me on is the consistent energy Elizabeth (brings) in really going out and campaigning,” DeMatteo, a Keene resident who does not endorse primary candidates due to his position with the party, said Monday. “That’s what’s impressed people more than anything.”
Because of an embargo agreed to by The Sentinel and the campaign, DeMatteo and Hay were not asked about Warren’s latest proposals.
But Hay said many Granite Staters may overestimate how well they know the candidate as a U.S. senator from a neighboring state if they have not followed the race closely or seen her on the stump.
Another important factor in the primary that Hay noted is Warren’s substantial investment in New Hampshire staff.
Warren was one of the first candidates to hire a New Hampshire state director amid an unusual scarcity given the sprawling field, and has drawn Granite State talent from the midterm elections.
By mid-April, Warren’s national staff surpassed 170, outpacing the rest of the field.
There may be a downside in going into such specificity on policy, Hay said, given the opportunity rival campaigns could have to paint any alterations as flip-flopping.
But she added that taking the risk of going deep on policy and having to make changes later on is far better than the alternative.
“You can’t run for president and not have plans.”