Sanders v Warren, a comprehensive comparison


· Sanders — 78

· Warren — 70


· Sanders — European Jewish-American, New York-raised, male, heterosexual, married

· Warren — European-American, Methodist, Oklahoma-raised, female, heterosexual, married

Net Worth

· Sanders — $2 million

· Warren — $8.8 million

Years Holding Elected Office

· Sanders — 38 years

· Warren — 7 years

Time Line


· Brooklyn College, 1959–60

· University of Chicago, 1961–65

· Joined Young People’s Socialist League, Congress for Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Peace Union, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

· Arrested curing CORE action, 1962, protesting segregation in University housing (policy was changed in 1963 — success).

· 1963 — attended the March on Washington. Arrested and fined the same year for protesting school segregation in Englewood (near Chicago).

· 1963–5: Organized with United Packinghouse Workers of America and with the Leon Despres campaign for Alderman (against the Daly Machine).

· 1965–75: opposed the US occupation of Vietnam, but consistently advocated for increasing veterans benefits.

· 1971: joined the Liberty Union Party and ran for Governor of Vermont (came in third).

· 1980: ran for Mayor of Burlington (won by ten votes).

· 1981–89: Mayor of Burlington, VT. Fought against developers. Outspoken critic of US policy in Latin America. Ranked by US News and World Report as “one of America’s best mayors.”

· 1989: Taught Political Science at Harvard University.

· 1990: Elected to the US House of Representatives as first independent in Congress since 1950.

· 2005–6: Ran for Senate and won. Remains in the Senate today.

· Senate Committee assignments: Environment and Public Works; Energy and Natural Resources; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Budget; Veterans Affairs.


1966: Entered George Washington University as an Education major.

· 1968: Married and quit school to move to Houston.

· 1970: Earned a BA in Speech pathology from the University of Houston

· 1972–76: Earned a law degree from Rutgers University.

· 1980: Became an Associate Dean of University of Houston Law School.

· 1987: Became a full professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School.

· 1995: Became full professor at Harvard Law School (Republican throughout her youth, colleagues said she was very much for laissez-faire capitalism).

· 2000–10: Became a strong public advocate of consumer protection after studying it. Soured on the Republican Party and began arguing for greater regulation.

· 2012: Ran for the US Senate for Massachusetts (won). Remains in Senate today.

· Senate Committee assignments: Armed Services; Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Special Committee on Aging.

Accomplishments in Office


Mayor of Burlington, VT

· Won re-election three times as Mayor of Burlington.

· Doubled voter turnout in Burlington elections.

· First community in the US to fund community-trust housing.

· Balanced Burlington’s budget.

· Sued local cable outlet and won reduced consumer rates.

· Prevented developers from turning city waterfront into high-end condominiums.

· Funded training programs for women to enter nontraditional trades and professions.

US House of Representatives

· Co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

· Passed 90 amendments (nicknamed “The Amendment King”).

· Passed more amendments by roll call vote than any member of Congress in history (21).

Among those amendments, were:

· “Require offenders who are convicted of fraud and other white collar crime to give appropriate notice to victims and other persons in cases where there are multiple victims eligible to receive restitution.”

· A grant program to institutions of higher education seeking to reduce costs through the purchase of goods and services.

· Stopped the IRS from using funds that “violate current pension age discrimination laws.”

· Won $100 million for community health centers and other free health care services.

· Prevented the importation of goods made by child labor.

US Senate

· Chair of the US Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs — 2013–2014.

· Ranking Minority member of the Senate Budget Committee — 2015.

· Ranking Minority member of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging.

· Passed an amendment that requires at least 30% of water heating in Federal Buildings use solar energy.

· Stopped TARP bailout money from being used to replace workers with cheaper labor.

· Improved child care for active duty military.

· Expanded military (Tricare) health benefits to include autism.

· Forced the Governors of the Federal Reserve System to reveal the recipients of $2 trillion in funds.

· Point person in overhaul of the Veterans Administration.


· Special Note: Warren gets credit prior to being in office for her pivotal role as Congressional advisor in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

· Sponsored/co-sponsored 35 bills, none of which every got out of committee except a resolution to congratulate the New England Patriots for their victory in the Super Bowl.

· Voted to confirm Ben Carson as HUD Secretary, then switched after a constituent outcry.

· Voted for Trump’s 2017 defense budget.

Political History

· Warren was a Republican until 1996, then a Democrat.

· Sanders has caucused with Democrats, but remained an Independent (who calls himself a democratic socialist).

· Warren did not support Medicare For All in 2012, claimed to support it in 2016, and is now calling it a “framework.”

· Sanders has been pushing single-payer in Congress since 1991.

Demographics of Support (last half 2019, very tentative and in motion)

· Sanders dominates among youth, people of color, wage workers, and those without advanced degrees.

· Warren dominates among older white people, mostly salaried, with advanced degrees.

· Sanders has 22 percent of voters earning less than $50,000/yr.

· Warren has 12 percent of voters earning less than $50,000/yr.

· Sanders has 16 percent of those holding a Bachelor’s Degree (only).

· Warren has 15 percent of those holding a Bachelor’s Degree (only).

· Sanders has 12 percent of those holding post-graduate degrees.

· Warren has 19 percent of those holding post-graduate degrees.

· Sanders has 34 percent between ages 18–29.

· Warren has 11 percent between ages 18–29.

· Sanders has 25 percent between ages 30–44.

· Warren has 13 percent between ages 30–44.

· Sanders has 17 percent between ages 45–54.

· Warren has 12 percent between ages 45–54.

· Sanders has 12 percent between ages 55–64.

· Warren has 13 percent between ages 55–64.

· Sanders has 8 percent ages 64-up.

· Warren has 13 percent ages 64-up.

· Sanders has 18 percent of women’s support.

· Warren has 14 percent of women’s support.

· Sanders has 20 percent of men’s support.

· Warren has 11 percent of men’s support.

· Sanders has 22 percent of African America’s vote.

· Warren has 9 percent of African America’s vote.

· Sanders has 21 percent of Latin@ voters.

· Warren has 15 percent of Latin@ voters.

NOTE: As of yesterday, polls showed Warren with 27 percent, Sanders with 21 percent, and Biden in third at 18 percent. My own intuition is that Sanders will absorb more of Biden’s demographic than Warren (see link below). These new numbers, compared to a week ago, provisionally support that.

What does this mean on the electoral map?

Two different things, actually, one for the Primaries and another for the General. Remember, Democrats focus South for the Primaries, then tend to pivot North (and whiter) during the General Elections. A good strategy for the former never translates into a good strategy for the latter.

In swing states with high African American and-or Latin@ populations, this gives Sanders a distinct advantage in both elections, though as of this writing, older Black voters in the South are still tilting toward Biden. Other polls show that if Biden drops out, the largest share of his voters will migrate to Sanders (27 percent of Biden’s drops, especially African Americans), and Warren will get between 8–15 percent of Biden’s drops — depending if Kamala Harris is still in, because she pulls that fraction that votes women-first regardless).

In the General, some of the South is safely Trump, but again, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina are all up for grabs. Sanders polls stronger than Warren in those states in head-to-head polling with Trump for the same reason he polls stronger in the three Trump-flips of 2019 in the North — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio. A poll in September 2019 by Univision, showed Sanders as the only Democrat winning Texas (!) against Trump . . . which would be a phenomenal flip, partly due to a huge in-migration of young families from outside the state and a growing Latin@ population.

Among Obama 2012/Trump 2016 voters in these “swing” states, Sanders polls better than any other Democratic candidate. This is the mapping that qualifies the more general nationwide polling showing Sanders beating Trump by 12 points and Warren beating him by 11 points — Warren’s numbers are strongest only in districts that are already safely Democratic.

General Election-ability

The winning candidate is likely to face (barring impeachment and the arch-coward Pelosi has just taken it off the table again) Donald Trump. We know how Trump campaigns. He dishes dirt (where it can be found) and embellishes it. He calls names. He mobilizes racism, misogyny, and adolescent probative masculinity. He provokes without boundaries (in the hope of obtaining a response, like a child who needs to constantly be the center of attention).

Trump’s strategists already know that they have to do two things: increase right-wing turnout and decrease enough opposition turnout to play the maps like they did in 2016.

Here is my big concern on the question of electability, apart from the electoral map, which favors Sanders ahead of Warren in the General. Elizabeth Warren’s biggest political gaffe was a reaction to one of these provocations — the “Pocahantas” DNA fiasco that forced a public apology. So, Trump provoked Elizabeth Warren, based on her own past dishonesty (more on that below), with a childish ploy that worked magnificently, and attacked her based on . . . drum roll please . . . her authenticity, the same issue that is dragging Biden back into obscurity as this is written.

Here, we need an aside. “Authenticity” is a popular impression that is supposed to signal integrity. Trump’s appeal — apart from his xenophobic white nationalist red meat — was to the frustration that people have with ALL politicians.

The white middle class, in particular, which was the lion’s share of Trump voters contrary to the popular impression, is caught in a vice, as paychecks stay flat in a period of increasing productivity, between lives that are too damn busy and outrageous levels of debt. The old “center” has disappeared in this epochal shift from neoliberalism — now thoroughly discredited, but still active — to a creepy neo-nationalism (in countries around the world now). No one, right or left, trusts the governing establishment any longer.

Trump’s long con was convincing a lot of white people that he was the anti-politician, the “authentic” candidate, and this was given a nearly perfect assist by Hillary Clinton — whose sketchy record, serial dishonesty, and wooden, scripted, incompetent political performances blew holes in her own hull. Trump ran against Clinton’s pre-existing hypocrisies.

Obama was a far more competent politician, and a more skillful actor, whose authenticity-simulations were more broadly convincing. Trump won based on the substantial fraction of the electorate who voted for Obama (Change!) in 2008/2012, then voted for Trump (Change!) in 2016. Obama voters who voted Trump were 13 percent of 2016 Trump voters and 9 percent of 2012 Obama voters.

Bernie Sanders dominates among Democratic candidates with these swing voters. In counties where these voters are concentrated, Sanders has more individual contributions than any other candidate . . . by a long shot. Sanders — 33,185. Buttigieg — 14,296. Warren — 13,674. Biden — 12,040.

That anger and frustration is still there, amplified even, and if I were Donald Trump, my first two choices for an opponent would be (1) Biden and (2) Warren. Because both at incredibly vulnerable to charges of inauthenticity. In a head-to-head match-up, Sanders is far and away the most electable in the General.

The news media is doing everything in its power to muddy the waters about this disappearance of the “center,” because they are part of the ruling class in the US. They would rather have four more years of Trump than let a left social democrat like Sanders near the White House. They are sponsored by the very industries that Sanders has declared war on — banks, insurance, fossil fuels, pharmaceuticals, and war.

Bernie Sanders is the most electable candidate to oppose Trump in the General Election. And what is not mentioned in the media is the Sanders ground game. He has more than a million individual donors and an equal number of one-the-ground local activists ready to mobilize like an army prior to every vote.


One of the muddy-the-waters tactics of the ruling class and its media wing is to claim that Sanders and Warren are the same — both “progressives.” (I wish I could ban the term “progressive” from all speech public and private. It not only has a highly questionable and imperial history; it has been used so many ways as to become meaningless.)

The media-narrative is that since Warren and Sanders are both the same, why not have the (slightly) younger female candidate? Let’s just weaponize ageism and identity in one fell swoop.

Two words: faulty premise. They are not the same. They are not the same in two key ways: (1) they are not the same on policy, and (2) they do not share the same proposed methods to effect change.

I need to first cite the most common and unfounded “difference” claim that Warren has more and more detailed policy plans than Sanders. This is transparently untrue. Go to the respective candidates’ web sites and pull up their policies. Now, as to those supposed sames that are actually differences . . .

Means-testing v. Universalism. Sanders wants to cancel student and medical debt. Warren wants to means-test debt-forgiveness and limit it. She’s the same on college tuition. Sanders favors universally applicable solutions that eat into the power of the ruling elites and apply to all. These are also more durable solutions, because once people have them, they are loathe to give them up.

Sanders wrote Medicare-for-All as a comprehensive plan that is designed to put health insurance companies out of business. Warren has repeatedly waffled on taxes to support M4A, and she repeatedly refers to it (in a very Clintonian idiom) as “a framework.” That is a lie. It’s not a framework. It’s already a plan, which she once said she supports without all this recent equivocation. She’s leaving wiggle room for a future capitulation to the insurance industry. And she is displaying exactly that disingenuous manipulation of the public that poisoned Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She is, as we said back in the army, pissing on our legs and telling us that it’s raining.

Foreign Policy. Neither the media nor most of the candidates are willing to give much time to the discussion of foreign policy, and yet this is where the office of the President has the most power to effect change, without Congress, on the day one takes office. Sanders is an activist. Warren is a process-junkie.

Sanders voted against Trump’s $1.3 billion 2017 military budget. Warren voted for it. That alone should raise a lot of eyebrows, because Warren lives in a state with lots of war-profiteers (I refuse to call the US War Department a Department of “Defense.”).

Sanders opposed the nomination of the execrable John Brennan as head of the CIA. Warren supported Brennan’s nomination.

Sanders is critical of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and its internal racial-apartheid. Warren has been very supportive of the State of Israel.

Wealth Tax. Warren’s wealth tax proposal would set tax $50 million to $1 billion at an additional 2 percent, yielding $2.6 trillion to the Treasury within ten years. Sanders’ wealth tax proposal would tax $32–50 million at 1 percent marginal, $50–250 million at 2 percent, $250–500 million at 3 percent, $500 million to $1 billion at 4 percent, $1–2.5 billion at 5 percent, $2.5–5 billion at 6 percent, $5–10 billion at 7 percent, and $10 billion+ at 8 percent . . . yielding $4.35 trillion in ten years.

Technocrat v Organizer-in-Chief (Regulation v Revolution)

Now let’s talk about how things get done when the world is burning, the global financial system is teetering, and the capitalist class is shifting toward right-wing authoritarianism in a nuclear-armed world.

Elizabeth Warren is a technocrat. In this, she is exactly like Hillary Clinton. She does not trust popular power, and believes that all change has to come out of policy constructed by intellectuals and experts.

Bernie Sanders is a movement-organizer. His entire insurgency within the Democratic Party has been based on this orientation. He has already said that his latent power is in the street, where he plans to mobilize massed of people to pressurized recalcitrant politicians to achieve huge goals, yes, but also . . . and this is crucial . . . to increase multi-racial working class power viz a viz ruling class power, and the reclamation and expansion of public assets (socially-held property). He believes that all policy should flow out of popular movements.

Sanders trusts popular democracy. Warren does not.

Warren v Trump — an unhappy story

Now, I want to do a quick rehash of Elizabeth Warren’s history, then ask you to play the role of a Trump campaign advisor.

Joe Manchin

Her endorsement of Joe Manchin, the right-wing Democrat in West Virginia, was accompanied by her “spirited defense” of Manchin “working hard” for working class constituents, when Manchin has voted with his corporate donors 100 percent of the time. Moreover, she declared in 2017 that she would never support any Democratic Primary challenger to the establishment.

Working Families Party

This years’ endorsement of Warren by Working Families Party (a NY-based left-leaning group with an undemocratic structure) was a surprise, but it was discovered that the leadership has its votes weighted over and against rank-and-file (which endorsed Sanders before, and likely did again), and the leadership handed the endorsement to Warren . . . after Warren’s daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, gave WFP a $45,000 grant). This is Elizabeth Warren’s mini-Hunter-Biden moment.

Paul Egerman

Warren’s current campaign treasurer Paul (“PAC man”) Egerman, also called “The Billionaire Bundler,” served with Warren’s daughter (who awarded the money to WFP) in the same non-profit, and is a long standing Democratic establishment fundraiser. This makes her claim to oppose Big Money more than a little suspect.

Big Money again

Despite taking the No Big Money pledge that Sanders has respected by the letter and spirit of the law from the beginning, Warren carried more than $6 million forward into her own Presidential campaign coffers from previous donations that did include Big Money (corporate) contributions. She has gone back and forth for the past few weeks, depending on her audience, in either (a) waffling on the pledge, saying she’ll take corporate cash in the General Election, or (b) repeating the prevarication that she opposed big money in politics.

Ben Carson

Warren voted to confirm the crackpot Ben Carson as HUD secretary in 2017, later saying — after the outcry threatened to derail her presidential plans — that she had erred, whereupon she picked up the verbal attacks on Carson. Sanders voted no on the Carson confirmation.

Killed medical device tax

Elizabeth Warren’s biggest industry sector contributors for her Senate bids were “communications/electronics.” In Massachusetts, that means medical (and “defense”) technology ($17.6 billion of the state’s economy). When a 2015 effort to tax the industry was afoot, Warren was instrumental in killing it (for an industry that netted $336 billion in domestic revenues alone that year).

Misrepresented her “firing”

Elizabeth Warren has taken to telling a fib about why she lost a speech pathologist job back in the day. This is being called a “right wing smear,” even though the story was broken by Meagan Day, a straight-up socialist working for Jacobin magazine. She has begun telling people she lost the job because she was visibly pregnant. This is a tricky one, because women were fired for being pregnant. But she herself, who was pregnant with Amelia (see above), stated in a 2007 interview that she left voluntarily because she lacked the requisite qualifications and was an “emergency” hire — a substitute. She began deploying the “fired” narrative in the wake of the #MeToo surge. What this points to is her willingness to prevaricate to manage her image before selective audiences. Again, lack of authenticity. She is adjusting her bio to say, “I’m just like you.” Which always plays out with audiences as, “No . . . you’re not.”

Lied about her “heritage” and her family

We’ve already mentioned how Trump caught her in his idiot-net with the DNA fiasco. For Trump, this one was a layup, and he can lay it up again and again now. In 2012, Warren released a now cringe-worthy ad claiming that her mother was discriminated against for being “part Cherokee and part Delaware.” It was not true then, and she knew it. The family, according to her brother, repeated an apocryphal claim that there was a shade of the two First Nations in the family background; and yet, Warren deployed this narrative to convince voters that she “knew from experience” the price of racial discrimination. Fake authenticity, again. To make matters worse, she contributed recipes to a Native cookbook called Pow Wow Chow, and listed herself as Cherokee. So when Trump called her Pocahantas, he was going for a totally exposed jugular vein. She had even listed her ethnicity with her employer, University of Pennsylvania Law School, as Native American. Her DNA actually showed that she had between 0.9–1.5 percent native ancestry, and her publication of this result “against Trump” led indigenous collectives to vigorously denounce her.

The “beer commercial”

Just after announcing her candidacy, Warren did an Instagram campaign ad that pegged the cringe-meter again. In it, she awkwardly pauses to “get me a beer,” as if she’d ever say “got me an anything,” followed by a canned appearance by her husband (who says, “Enjoy your beer.”), and followed again by an equally awkward swig of the beer. Can I say it again? Counterfeit “authenticity,” the very animal that ate up Hillary Clinton.

Elizabeth Warren has a record of trying to burnish an image of “authenticity” (or “I’m just one of you.”). If she were to stick with her actual rags-to-riches (kind of) history, she would be okay; but her eager, if sometimes incompetent, willingness to embellish and even lie to fluff up her populist resume is as sad as it is insulting to the intelligence of voters. Instead, she is burnishing her resume as someone — and here is where she becomes Hillary Clinton — the slick politician who cannot be trusted. Another Washington poser.

Warren is evasive as hell, as last night’s debate showed . . . again. She is as clumsy a deflector as Clinton, and she does it a lot. A perfect example was when Emma Vigeland asked her, “You’ve focused a lot on progressive domestic policy, but you also voted for a military budget increase in 2017. How does that square with your progressive politics when we’re talking about foreign policy?” Warren’s answer: “If the question is, do I think we should cut the military budget, the answer is yes. And I’m now on the Senate Armed Services Committee and I’ve had this fight over and over again. We need to stop the control of our defense budget that is exercised by the giant defense industry.”

Uh . . . that wasn’t the question. The question is why did you vote (!) to authorize Trump’s defense spending. But this is typical Warren. Reframe, duck, say something that you think will mollify the people who actually care.

Before I’m accused of being a “Russian agent” by Democratic McCarthyites, I should point out that Trump’s campaign will do its opposition research, and it already knows everything I’ve detailed. Each one of these can be turned into a snarky ad that (1) demobilizes marginally-engaged D-voters (as they did the last time), and (2) reinforces the message that she is more of the same (a hypocrite, as they did the last time). Trump voters will turn out in record numbers in 2020, count on it.

Now, I invite readers to war game this as if you were Trump’s campaign advisor. How would you go after Elizabeth Warren? I start with a loop of “I’m gonna get me a beer” again and again and again and again, with maniacal laughter at the end of each rotation . . . Now I superimpose the text: “Fake Elizabeth Warren. Harvard intellectual pretends to be one of the guys. Same old sh**. Fake fake fake. Vote Donald Trump.”

Now you try . . .



Author of the books “Hideous Dream,” “Full Spectrum Disorder,” “Borderline,” “Mammon’s Ecology,” and “Tough Gynes.”

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Stan Goff

Author of the books “Hideous Dream,” “Full Spectrum Disorder,” “Borderline,” “Mammon’s Ecology,” and “Tough Gynes.”