Review of the application of Amy Klobuchar has raised the issue of electability. Obviously, management is charged with selecting, not simply the best candidate, but the best candidate who can defeat Trump in 2020. Accordingly, management has commissioned a report on the subject of electability.
A Central Question. The debate over electability often focuses on the relative merits of two opposing viewpoints:
(1) Choose a candidate from the middle, who will appeal to the broadest swath of potential voters and have a greater chance of winning the votes of disaffected Republicans.
(2) Choose a vibrant, exciting candidate who will increase turnout among his or her demographic group, younger voters, and progressives seeking transformative change.
This report cites a number of articles. Hot off the presses today is “Can anyone define what ‘electability’ means?” in the Washington Post.
Update. a new article from WaPo about electability.
Perhaps my favorite article is in The New Republic which declares that “electability is a crock of shit.” Similarly, Vox argues that the term “electability” is a coded way of saying “white male.”
A few more articles – one in the Washington Post about electability, and a good one in The Intelligencer about the two main opposing views.
Don’t get nervous, but an article in Real Clear Politics suggests that a significant number of voters would vote for a Democrat, depending on who the candidate is, and thus that the choice of candidate matters a lot. Gee, thanks for increasing the pressure.
Observation. Can’t remember where I read it, but Democrats have lost more often by running supposedly electable candidates, and seem to do better with candidates who offer something new. (It’s ancient history now, but it was a big deal that Kennedy would be the first Catholic president).
Preliminary Conclusion. It seems that “electability” is often shorthand for “most conventional and least threatening.” If a candidate’s views are bizarre or extreme, they are not electable.
But, if a candidate has the same general positions as other candidates, we should not assume that they are unelectable simply on the basis that “America will never vote for a candidate who is” [so young, so old, black, white, Hispanic, gay, unmarried, angry, from the south, inexperienced, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, quirky, etc. etc.].
This is a big subject and I’d love to know what my imaginary readers think. Meanwhile, it’s time to publish this for now with a promise to revisit it as we go along.