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Elizabeth Warren
stated on January 14, 2020 in a debate:
"Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections. The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women, Amy and me."
true true
Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 14, 2020. (AP) Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 14, 2020. (AP)

Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 14, 2020. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson January 14, 2020

The Democratic debates’ biggest (electoral) losers, by the numbers

Winning is the name of the game in politics. But at one point on the Iowa debate stage, there was also talk of losing — and losing and losing.

It came up during a back-and-forth between Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., over the question of whether Sanders had once told her that a woman cannot win the presidency.

During the debate, Warren said, "I think the best way to talk about who can win is by looking at people's winning record. So, can a woman beat Donald Trump? Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections. The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women, Amy and me." Warren was referring to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Readers asked us to track down the math behind this assertion. We found that Warren’s count was correct.

Here’s a rundown of the electoral win-loss records of the six candidates on stage during the CNN-Des Moines Register debate on Jan. 14. The 10 losses are listed in boldface.

Warren

2012 Elected to U.S. Senate, defeating Republican incumbent Scott Brown

2018 Re-elected to U.S. Senate.

Klobuchar

1998 Elected Hennepin County Attorney

2002 Re-elected Hennepin County Attorney

2006 Elected to U.S. Senate (open seat)

2012 Re-elected to U.S. Senate

2018 Re-elected to U.S. Senate

Pete Buttigieg (one loss)

2010 Lost race for Indiana state treasurer against Republican incumbent Richard Mourdock

2011 Elected mayor of South Bend, Ind.

2015 Re-elected as mayor

Joe Biden (two losses)

1972 Elected to U.S. Senate, defeating Republican incumbent Caleb Boggs

1978 Re-elected to U.S. Senate

1984 Re-elected to U.S. Senate

1988 Ran and lost for president

1990 Re-elected to U.S. Senate

1996 Re-elected to U.S. Senate

2002 Re-elected to U.S. Senate

2008 Ran and lost for president

2008 Re-elected to U.S. Senate

2008 Won the vice presidency

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2012 Re-elected to the vice presidency

Sanders (seven losses)

1972 Lost U.S. Senate special election (running on the Liberty Union party line)

1972 Lost election for Vermont governor (running on the Liberty Union party line)

1974 Lost Senate election (running on the Liberty Union party line)

1976 Lost gubernatorial election (running on the Liberty Union party line)

1981 Elected mayor of Burlington, Vt.

1983 Re-elected Burlington mayor

1985 Re-elected Burlington mayor

1986 Lost election for Vermont governor (running as an independent)

1987 Re-elected Burlington mayor

1988 Lost U.S. House election to incumbent Republican Rep. Peter Smith

1990 Elected to U.S. House, defeating Smith

1992 Re-elected to U.S. House

1994 Re-elected to U.S. House

1996 Re-elected to U.S. House

1998 Re-elected to U.S. House

2000 Re-elected to U.S. House

2002 Re-elected to U.S. House

2004 Re-elected to U.S. House

2006 Elected to U.S. Senate (open seat)

2012 Re-elected to U.S. Senate

2018 Re-elected to U.S. Senate

2016 Ran and lost for president

Tom Steyer

This is Steyer’s first race for public office.

Warren’s "30 years" line

Meanwhile, after this exchange, Warren and Sanders faced off on another piece of their electoral win-loss records.

Warren said that she was "the only person on this stage who has beaten an incumbent Republican any time in the past 30 years."

The two candidates sparred over the meaning of "at any time in the past 30 years."

As the list above shows, Sanders defeated an incumbent Republican in 1990. That’s right on Warren’s cutoff of 30 years.

Our ruling

Warren said, "Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections. The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women, Amy and me." 

We checked the electoral histories of the candidates on stage and found that Warren spoke accurately. We rate her statement True. 

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More by Louis Jacobson

The Democratic debates’ biggest (electoral) losers, by the numbers

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