Presidential Electability?

In a good example of corporate media striving to narrow down the Democratic primary field USA Today (12/18/07) had a story on candidates’ electability that wrote all but two of them out of existence. The story opened with the statement that “Illinois Sen. Barack Obama fares better than New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton against prospective Republican rivals,” and went on to report:

In hypothetical matchups for the general presidential election, Clinton and Obama each led Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and [Mitt] Romney, although at times narrowly. Obama was somewhat stronger, besting Giuliani by 6 points, Huckabee by 11 and Romney by 18. Clinton had an edge of 1 point over Giuliani, 9 points over Huckabee and 6 points over Romney.

Missing from USA Today’s polling about electability was John Edwards–even though aside from Clinton and Obama, Edwards is the only Democratic candidate who consistently polls in double digits. And when other polls have included Edwards in questions about electability, Edwards generally does better than the other two, sometimes by wide margins.

In a CNN survey of December 6-9, Edwards beat Romney by 11 points more than Clinton and 9 points more than Obama. He beat Huckabee by 15 points more than Clinton and 10 points more than Obama. Clinton lost to McCain in this polling by 2 points while Obama and McCain were tied, but Edwards beat him by 6. There’s not as much of a difference with Giuliani, but Edwards still did 3 points better than Clinton and 2 points better than Obama.

If it’s true, as USA Today’s article reported, that “Democratic voters increasingly are focused on nominating the most electable presidential candidate,” then the paper did those voters a real disservice by leaving Edwards out of the equation.

Then there is this from Ari Melber at – Campaign08 Blog:


How bad do you want to win back the White House? As the primaries finally approach, a growing share of Democratic voters say choosing the most electable candidate is more important than the issues, according to a brand new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. (Voters who prioritize electability are now 45 percent of the Democratic electorate, up 9 points from last month.) Now I think electability is a strategically flawed and morally vapid way to pick the next President. We should vote for leaders, not general election strategies.

But on top of that, it’s striking that most Democrats wrongly think that being a primary frontunner means a candidate is most likely to win the general election. Over six out of ten Democrats say Clinton is the most electable, for example, in last week’s CBS/New York Times poll. But a battery of national polls suggest John Edwards is the most electable candidate. Average all the head-to-head polls from July until now, and Edwards beats Republicans by an average of 8 points, while Obama averages a 5-point edge and Clinton nets only a 3-point lead. (Some individual polls show larger leads for each candidate, of course, but these are the broader trends.) This sharp YouTube video tells the story quite clearly, complete with a Ben Harper soundtrack. Readers should note that it was produced by the Jed Report blogger, who runs an anti-Hillary site, but the polls are public and the methodology is available.

And I’m not sure what’s worse: applying electability to pick the Commander in Chief, or applying it incorrectly.

So, who will select the next nominee for President from the Democratic Party? We the people, or corporate media barons like Hillary’s pal, Rupert Murdoch.

Addition: For more about Edwards rise in the polls and the fact that this is really a three preson contest; check out Ellinorianne’s diary on Daily Kos.

Edwards gaining attention for all the right reasons
by Ellinorianne The past couple of weeks for Edwards have been amazingly positive and more importantly, he’s getting more National attention.  But what does this mean to me?

What does it mean to you?  The narrative is changing and it’s officially a three person race!

  3 comments for “Presidential Electability?

  1. December 22, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    I agree with those who think Edwards is the most electable, and I also believe, of the top three, he would be the best President. I think he has a pretty decent chance of winning Iowa.

    Kos has a great post up about how there are polls out there that show either of the top three winning.

  2. Ellinorianne
    December 22, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Electability has been the least of my worries for a President, but it sure helps. I think Edwards is serious about taking on special interests and he’s not taken lobbyist money from the beginning back in 1998 when he first ran for Senate. He also was talking about the influence of these interests on issues such as health care (and went on to co-sponsor the patients bill of rights).

    I do believe that there are interests that do not want Edwards as our candidate because they know he can win, we have Republican strategists saying he’s their worst nightmare, DNC insiders saying they don’t want him, etc. Dean was hurt by this, I hope we’ve learned our lesson and do not allow another poor decision as our nominee happen again.

    Dean has gone on to do great things with the DNC and I’ve heard first hand accounts how the fifty state strategy is helping Democrats in traditionally red states the possibility of being elected and unseating unpopular Republicans.

    Thanks for the article. The other good news is that Clinton is down in California 9 points! Edwards is up as well as Obama. The unkowns went up the most though, people are still undecided.

    Edwards getting attention for all the right reasons

    This is a diary I did at the Daily Kos about his campaign in Iowa in the last week. I hope you don’t mind me pimping my diaries here. 😉

  3. helene
    December 23, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    This is a fascinating post. It addresses what has to be the most important question: aside from voting machines, Secretaries of State, and the Supreme Court, why did the Democratic Party lose the last two national elections? (and if we really won, why by so few votes)?
    Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas explained to us that voters are put off by attitudes of entitlement; the “limousine liberal” tag is real to them. That’s why, to be electable, a candidate must seem like one of the people. Obama and Hillary grew up in privileged families and went to private schools. That matters, and it would make them potentially as unelectable as Kerry, who seemed right yet was so wrong. This time, this year, we must get it right, and I think that Edwards understands that and it’s why he’s running.

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