If electability were dependent on how moderate a candidate is, or is perceived to be, Jimmy Carter would likely have won a second term. We also likely would have had Presidents Mondale, Kerry, McCain, Romney and President Hillary Clinton. Maybe also President Gore.
Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi is disgusted with the way “electability” was used to shout down Bernie Sanders in 2016 and has already been deployed against Elizabeth Warren ahead of 2020. Taibbi wants to deem the whole enterprise “alchemy and a crock.”
But this is the wrong take. Far more effective are the four simple words that drive PUMA people over the edge: Bernie would have won. (Party Unity My Ass or PUMA supporters of Hillary Clinton in 2008 refused to support Barack Obama in the general election for November.) Not only is it true that Bernie Sanders would have won, as even the most grudging pro-Clinton data people had to eventually admit, but it is also true that a proper look at the data showed that Sanders would likely win, where Clinton would struggle against Trump, way back in the spring of 2016, well before the conventions.
For those who have not previously followed my work, I have been writing on polling, elections data, and politics for the last three years here at CounterPunch, using my #10at10 model to analyze and forecast elections. I made the case that Sanders was more electable in May 2016 in an article entitled “Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary…