A promising 2020 presidential campaign for women falls short

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Linda Rosales, left, and Linda Dee pose for a photo after they carpooled to a campaign event with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in Denver on March 2, 2020, only to find she had ended her presidential bid. The two had hoped to back a woman but are accepting the Democratic race will come down to two white men. (AP Photo/Nicholas Riccardi)

At her home in suburban Detroit, Jill Warren spent Thursday morning glued to her phone, searching for news about the woman she fiercely believed should be the next president of the United States: Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Voter Warren had known that candidate Warren (no relation) was lagging badly and would likely drop out. Still, the news of the Massachusetts senator's departure from the presidential primaries was devastating — not only because of how the senator's message had resonated with her but because the exit was a final blow to hopes, once so bright, that a woman would be chosen to face President Donald Trump in November.

"It's a day for many people of mourning, just true mourning and grieving," said Jill Warren, a 61-year-old semi-retired nonprofit consultant.

“The ascendancy of old white dudes is not over," she said.

Elizabeth Warren's exit, coming after the one-time front-runner couldn't win a single Super Tuesday state, brought home a new and painful reality to some voters: If 2019 was the Year of the Woman, with a record number of women sworn into Congress and a record number launching presidential campaigns, 2020 was another Year of the Man in presidential politics.

Polling during a string of primaries has revealed the durability of doubts about female candidates and electability. At least half of Democratic primary voters believe a woman would have a harder time than a man beating Trump, according to AP VoteCast polling in four states that voted Tuesday. What's more, women are somewhat more likely than men to say so. That comes even as solid majorities of those voters say it's important to elect a woman president in their lifetime.

The message is clear: We want a woman, but not this time.

As she announced her departure on Thursday, Warren's voice cracked when she talked about meeting so many little girls while campaigning around the country the past year, knowing they “are going to have to wait four more years,” at least, to see a woman in the White House.