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Old 02-09-2019, 08:50 PM
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erimir erimir is offline
Projecting my phallogos with long, hard diction
Join Date: Sep 2005
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Default Re: Ultimate Cagefight MMXIX, Democratic Edition

(Not that I'm expecting a reply from chunks, he claims to have me on ignore because I'm a "center-right* status-quo fool". Maybe someday he'll be able to admit he was completely wrong about the ACA being the Heritage Foundation plan... maybe somebody else could ask him about it.


I agree with the basic premise of the article - predicting who's electable beforehand is not easy, and the idea that moderation/centrism is automatically electable is significantly flawed. Whether that makes sense depends a lot on which issues you're talking about and what the opposing candidate is doing, etc. it's pretty clear that saying the wealthy don't pay their fair share and they need to pay more is popular with the majority of Americans, so it doesn't make sense to say that the "center" position is in opposition to that.

But sure, there may be other issues where moderation is better for electability. But the media is going to push Bloomberg and Schultz as centrists even though their economic policy views are significantly to the right of the median American.

But I do take issue with a couple of the claims:
Originally Posted by Taibbi
In our current era, it should be buried permanently, as the 2016 victory of Donald Trump – the most “unelectable” politician to ever run for president after David Duke (I’m including “free ponies for all” candidate Vermin Supreme) – exploded what Bloomberg View called “everything we know” about who is and is not electable.
I don't think it explodes everything we know. We know that Trump was able to get away with a lot, and this was connected to Clinton's low favorables. Hers were actually not as bad as Trump's, but other factors (like the economy just being ok and it being a third term for the Democrats, and specifics of his campaign pitch being racist but promising not to cut entitlements, and oh FBI ratfucking and Russian hackers) made up for it in specific states (he did get fewer votes after all). The fundamentals would've predicted generic Republican to win the popular vote, so Trump did underperform those, even despite Clinton's weaknesses and dirty tricks used against her.

But when it came to an election where he wasn't up against an unpopular opponent, there was no FBI ratfucking and there was no high-profile hacking of private emails... Trump's low approval rating dragged down his party, being strongly correlated with results in individual districts, and they had the worst results in the House popular vote for a majority party ever (it was not the worst result in seats, largely due to gerrymandering).

Trump doesn't totally rewrite the rules or defy political gravity. His unpopularity does matter.
“Electability” is how Democratic voters were convinced to pick John Kerry in 2004.
That might be why Kerry was chosen, and he might not have been the best candidate in 2004, but he did slightly outperform the fundamentals. It's easy to think Bush should've been easy to beat, especially in retrospect after the full clusterfuck of the Iraq War became more obvious, but his approval rating was ok and the economy was doing pretty well, so he was favored to win. I hated Bush and never supported the war, but most Americans did not agree until at a minimum after the Democratic primaries (and the public was still pretty evenly divided on it through the end of 2004). Even now, public opinion polls are not overwhelmingly against the Iraq War.

It seems to be taken as a given that Kerry was a horrible candidate, but more quantitative approaches suggest he did fine. I can see thinking he should've done better because those approaches don't account for everything, but I think they do limit how bad you can say he was.
The result was a campaign in which Kerry didn’t win a single Southern or Southwestern state.
This says almost nothing except "Kerry didn't win" and "political trends in the South continued". I don't know why it's stated as if it's telling us something that you wouldn't guess from knowing that Bush won the popular vote.

If Kerry had instead won the popular vote by about 2.1 pts, like Clinton, he would've won Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Nevada and thus the election. It's also possible he could've won Colorado and Florida in that scenario.
The same thing happened to Republican voters in 2012, when a near-consensus of pundits told red-staters Mitt Romney was the most “electable” choice in the field to take on the hated Barack Obama. We know how that turned out.
To be fair, it's not clear who would've done better than Romney. Gingrich, Santorum, Bachmann, Cain? Huntsman? Maybe a more Trump-like candidate could've won, but their main problem was that Obama was just in a good position for reelection based on the economy, his approval rating, strength in some Midwestern states due to saving the auto industry, etc.

So what I would say is that I would arrive at a similar conclusion but almost for opposite reasons. Trump is consistently unpopular, and 2018 showed that he doesn't have some magic immunity to the effects of that. Which means that most Democrats should be able to beat him as long as we don't pick a trainwreck (Gabbard is someone who might be a trainwreck, for example). Picking Biden because he seems more electable is probably overestimating how much a candidate matters. If you don't like Biden, you have plenty of options. I'd also refer again to this piece again about how class resentment appears to be a winning message even though the media wouldn't call it "moderate" or "centrist".

But I wouldn't say "Trump proves the 'rules' don't matter, so Democrats can pick anyone, anyone, and don't need to worry!"

That said, maximizing our margin is more important than people think. If, theoretically, Biden can win by 10 pts but Sanders can only win by 4 pts, this probably means that Biden will be able to pass more progressive legislation than Sanders by virtue of bringing more Senate Democrats in on his coattails.

(This is why it was particularly irritating when people with Sanders campaign in 2016 said they were willing to damage Clinton in the general in order to extract policy concessions even though they couldn't win the nomination. Ignoring the fact that Trump obviously wasn't guaranteed to lose, winning more senate seats would gain you more on policy than getting more concessions on the platform and every point of margin over Trump could've brought more senators along. Regardless of how much damage you think he actually did, the point is that the reasoning is wrong.)
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SR71 (02-10-2019), The Man (02-09-2019)
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