Democratic voters in Arizona and across the country are divided over which of the party’s top candidates should challenge President Trump. Joe Biden continues to lead the field in most polls, but Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are running in a close second and third place, respectively. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been rising in the polls but he faces stiff odds of becoming the nominee.
Warren, 70, has been running in second or third place in most polls. She’s a more dynamic candidate than the 78-year-old Sanders and allows Democrats at least a nod, if not a wink, at having a diversity candidate. But while Warren had been steadily advancing on second place, she’s tumbled in the polls of late.
In Arizona, a recent poll by OH Predictive Insights shows Warren trailing President Donald Trump by 6 points. She was 1 point behind in August.
So what changed for Warren since October, when Quinnipiac showed her leading the Democratic field with 28 percent? The likely answer is that voters finally started listening to what Warren is saying on the campaign trail.
Supporters of the Massachusetts senator like her eat-the-rich mentality, working-class roots and ability to dive into wonky details, but Democrats are increasingly skittish about her uber-progressive platform and the reaction of swing voters.
Warren’s opposition to immigration enforcement and support for gun control ignore the real-world concerns about illegal drugs flowing across the southern border that a lot of Arizona voters have, regardless of party affiliation.
Warren has also come out swinging at many of America’s keystone industries. She is especially hard on the oil and natural gas sector, promising to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing that almost single-handedly saved the country from a full-blown depression during the Obama administration.
The practice of using a mixture of sand and water to open channels in tight shale rock formations – known as fracking – has turned the United States into the world’s top petroleum producer, responsible for 67 percent of domestic natural gas output and 50 percent of our nation’s oil production. A 2017 study by the American Petroleum Institute estimates a ban ending the practice would eliminate nearly 6 million jobs and increase the cost of energy for the average family by $4,500 a year.
In Arizona already, energy costs are already some of the highest in the country. The cost of a gallon of gasoline has steadily increased in the state, with the average price of regular unleaded $2.89 a gallon on Dec. 11 – 32 cents above the national average, according to AAA. Meanwhile, the average price of electricity in Arizona is on the higher side for a western state at 12.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. Higher energy costs disproportionately impact lower-income and rural residents across the state.
Warren has also announced plans to impose a moratorium on all new leasing for oil and gas on federal lands if she’s elected. I call that bold talk from a Harvard professor turned politician, but it rightfully has investors spooked. Investors hate uncertainty. They would rather sit on the sidelines than risk putting money into a turbulent market.
Warren’s anti-capitalist rhetoric is sending shivers down the backs of other industries, too. Her proposed private equity plan, for example, would hold buy-out firms liable for the debts of the companies in their portfolios, end the carried interest tax break, limit investor dividend payments and raise taxes on the fees they pay.
The economic cost of these policies could be as high as $3.4 billion annually, with about half of that coming from pension fund retirees, according to a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. According to Census Bureau data, Arizona is the second-most popular state for retirees, making it especially vulnerable to Warren’s anti-investor policies.
Warren recently doubled her proposed tax on the wealthy and plans to target the value of assets and investments as a way to raise $3.75 trillion to pay for Medicare for All and her other campaign promises.
The unpopularity of Medicare for All may be the leading cause of Warren’s drop in the polls. Quinnipiac found 36 percent of Democrats who said Warren’s plan to restructure the existing healthcare system was a good idea compared to 52 percent who said it was a bad idea. Biden called Warren’s plan “radical” and “a new tax of nearly $9 trillion that will fall on American workers.”
Between her plan to nationalize healthcare and impose the social justice mandates of the Green New Deal, over 8 million people could be sent packing to the unemployment office.
Proponents of greater government control over our lives and financial futures point to the increase in federal spending that will result. But any potential uptick in federal spending brought on by centralization will be far less than the drop in private sector activity.
Voters in Arizona and around the country are quickly realizing that Warren is Hillary Clinton 2.0. The difference is that Warren is upfront about her plans to radically change America.
Dan K. Eberhart is CEO of Canary, an independent oilfield services company. He lives in Phoenix.