There are few artificial constructs as specious, manipulative and deceptive as the ever-present BS term “electability.” It was pitched in 1968, yet the “electable” and “inevitable” Humphrey lost. He lost despite many of us holding our noses and supporting him anyway. Yet time and again the electability myth was used to shut down any well-thought-out or heartfelt support of an alternative candidate. (Don’t vote your heart, they argue. Vote your fears.)
The myth was pitched again in 1984 when the most “electable” Democrat (Walter Mondale) lost. We got a steady diet of it in 2000 (Al Gore) and 2004 (John Kerry). We lost again, twice. We did so, I might add, with nearly every Democrat I knew at the time stumbling all over themselves to flee the Howard Dean campaign to support the more “electable” Kerry. (“et tu Brute.”) At some point you have to ask, when will our party learn?
Electability is a hypothetical construct conceived in gaming a candidate’s chances of winning. The thing is that all the early data is biased–by cognitive biases, such as familiarity, and heuristics. You do not know who is electable until the votes are counted. But although electability is nothing more than a fiction. It can be used to create a self-fulfilling prophesy. This is what Hillary Clinton pins her hopes to, creating that self-fulfilling prophesy, her version of inevitability The thing is she does it against all evidence, the evidence that Hillary’s numbers tend to fall rather than rise and the evidence of her heavy negatives. The Clinton campaign tried this before in 2008. And lest anyone forget, she lost! Yep, President Obama was oh so “un-electable,” wasn’t he, twice!
Based on all the evidence, Hillary Clinton is not more electable than Bernie Sanders. Do I have to embolden this? And she is making all the same 2008 mistakes again in 2016. By the way, Sanders is an FDR-style candidate making the FDR-style case Democrats should have been making for the past 70 years. Need I remind you that FDR won THREE FOUR times. Count ’em–threefour.