There’s a growing understanding among members of the Senate Democratic Conference that it would be much easier if Joe Biden wins the party’s presidential nomination instead of his two closest competitors, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Most senators within the Democratic Party are staying neutral in a presidential race that includes six sitting senators along with Biden. The former vice president under Obama served for decades in the Senate.
Many don’t want to take sides in this challenge that is putting colleagues against one another, and senators don’t want to create bad blood with any of the contenders. One of them will either return to the Senate or end up in the White House.
Still, a number of Democrats privately acknowledge that if Warren or Sanders wins the nomination, it will create immediate tension within the party.
The two progressives are to the left of many of their colleagues, and some of their well-worn proposals, such as “Medicare for All” and free college education, do not have widespread support within the Democratic caucus.
If Warren or Sanders wins the party’s presidential nomination, there will be pressure in the Senate to adopt their proposals.
Another factor is the battle for majority in the Senate. Some Democrats think it will be easier to win races in conservative-leaning states such as Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia if Biden is their nominee and not Warren or Sanders.
“Ideologically, they’re definitely more with Biden,” said one Democratic senator, who described colleagues as having doubts about Warren’s and Sanders’s boldest proposals.
“Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, the wealth tax — the list is long,” the senator said.
Another Democratic senator who requested anonymity predicted that if Warren or Sanders is elected president, they will likely face opposition from fellow Democrats to some of their biggest proposals.
“The senators have a great confidence in their own ability with a friendly White House to say, ‘We like a lot of that, but we don’t like all of it,’ ” the senator said. “We’re not going to just do what they ask because they ask.”