Electability is a Myth: An Op/Ed

Patrick Kissel, Reporter

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Throughout the 2020 presidential election campaign, pundits all over mainstream media outlets have been centering their commentary on one specific issue: electability.

Article after article, and debate after debate has been had about which candidate is more likely to bring out the democratic base, which candidate is more likely to attract undecideds in the weeks before the election, which candidate is more likely to attract moderate Republicans, and which candidate is best situated to beat president Donald Trump. These arguments have blocked the airwaves of the nation, but ultimately to little avail because determining which of the three aforementioned skills are most important, and which candidate has them, is an indeterminable factor in an election.

The argument that electability is something only one candidate possesses does not work. First, there are numerous tactics parties can use in order to win elections, including turning out the base and neglecting the swing voters, focusing less on policies that turn out the base and attempting to appeal to swing voters more, or any other combination thereof. Also, a lot of arguments surrounding electability focus substantially on the identity politics surrounding the candidate. This is best exhibited by the current feud between Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders surrounding comments Warren claims Bernie made in 2018 about a woman’s chance of winning the presidency. The party itself focuses on the identity politics, but voters ultimately care more for policy; otherwise former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg would be far higher in the polls as the first serious LGBTQ+ contender for a main political party’s nomination.

Even when focused on policy, what exactly would help one candidate gain an edge over another candidate is unclear. American voters lay all over the political spectrum, and only about half of the eligible voting population will actually vote. This makes it incredibly difficult to guage which policies will work best with voters, and incredibly irresponsible to diffinitively say that one candidate is more electable when compared to Trump than other candidates. The number of voters fluctuates, and the policies those voters want are incredibly difficult to pin down. Therefore, using the generic idea of “electability” as a measure of who should be a party’s nominee is incredibly inaccurate, and irresponsible.

Whoever wins the democratic primary will have to face Trump in the general election, but if they win that, they will be responsible for ensuring the nation’s future in an incredibly difficult time. The globe is burning, our foreign policy is in shambles, and our nation has become increasingly polarized. If all Americans base their choice off of is a difficult to pin down, fabricated measure like a person’s overall “electability” then the wrong person may reach the Presidency.

Democrats should choose as their nominee the best person for the office, not the person pundits claim has the best chance of beating Trump based on factors no pollster, politician, reporter or pundit can truly state with enough certainty for the Democratic party to base this important decision upon.