Opinion Opinions | Democrats need to stop worrying about electability

21:10  04 february  2020
21:10  04 february  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

George Conway suggests Trump's impeachment lawyers knew exactly what was in Bolton's book

  George Conway suggests Trump's impeachment lawyers knew exactly what was in Bolton's book President Trump's impeachment defenders may have known the John Bolton bombshell was coming. After Sunday's report indicating Bolton's forthcoming book would allege Trump blatantly suggested withholding aid from Ukraine, Democrats have only strengthened their calls for a Bolton impeachment testimony, and some Republicans have drifted to their side. A Bolton testimony would be "devastating to Trump" — and his lawyers' opening arguments show they expected it all along, George Conway argues in a Washington Post op-ed published Monday.

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a blue and white box on a table: Voting booths set up in downtown Minneapolis on Jan. 9.© Steve Karnowski/AP Voting booths set up in downtown Minneapolis on Jan. 9.

The ability to predict the future does not exist. That doesn’t stop us from trying — which brings me to the matter of the Democratic race for the party’s presidential nod. Voters repeatedly — and understandably! — tell pollsters their top goal is ensuring President Trump doesn’t get to serve a second term, and that they would prefer a candidate who can do that even if that means he or she doesn’t agree with them on a host of political matters.

Bannon says Democrats won't stop effort to impeach Trump

  Bannon says Democrats won't stop effort to impeach Trump Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said Sunday that Democrats won't stop their effort to impeach President Trump. Bannon told Maria Bartiromo on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures" that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "from day one" has aimed to "destroy Trump" in order to take back the White House."This is not going to stop," he said. "They're going to subpoena more people. They're going to leak more information. And this is why I don't mind getting John Bolton as a witness."The former chief strategist said the Democrats' impeachment efforts stem from the Democratic primary process and the Iowa caucuses.

This is a terrific sentiment — come November 2020. But it’s not something that voters should focus on while making selections in the Democratic caucuses and primaries, beginning with Iowa. Voters are not prognosticators, and selecting a candidate in the primaries that you are not enthusiastic about because of a possibly misplaced belief in that candidate’s electability is, to say the least, an unproven proposition.

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In other words — don’t try this at home. Or a polling booth. Or a caucus gathering. Just don’t.

Can Bernie Sanders tackle the question of electability?

  Can Bernie Sanders tackle the question of electability? With the Iowa caucus just four days away, the Democratic presidential candidates are making a last-ditch appeal to “future former Republican voters,” as Pete Buttigieg described them. These are the voters still on the fence, the centrists that could be swayed by the right candidate. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); As November approaches, these voters will become even more important, and so will electability.

What we call “electability” is actually conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom is right — till it isn’t. The best example? Donald Trump. Even as he led the polls in the Republican Party, pundits and politicos alike insisted Trump simply couldn’t emerge victorious in his party’s primary, never mind in November. Viewed as entertainment, Trump wasn’t seen as a serious political threat by either Democrats or Republicans. According to some reports, not even Trump appeared to believe he could pull it off.

You know what happened next.

All too often the concept of electability can be based on a tautology or wish fulfillment. Voters think Joe Biden is the most electable because … other voters think Joe Biden is the most electable? Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the most likely to pull it off, because he’s leading a movement, which is something more than a campaign? Maybe they are right and maybe they are wrong, but either way, these sentiments are not exactly foolproof. People citing these things ignore inconvenient facts, hiding them under a carpet of inevitability. Things can change, but in neither case does this make for an ironclad case for electability.

Opinions | New Hampshire just got more important for three contenders

  Opinions | New Hampshire just got more important for three contenders The Granite State's primary is probably the last shot for a few of the presidential candidates.We may not have complete results in Iowa before the New Hampshire primary. Think about that for a moment, and you can appreciate the utter waste of time and money that candidates have expended. One result of the Iowa debacle is perhaps some added importance for the New Hampshire contest for three of the Democratic contenders.

The concept of electability also falls prey to what behavioral psychologists call recency bias, which is a fancy way of saying we believe what happened in the recent past is the most likely to occur again in the future. In investing — where this term is frequently used — this means we assume that when equities are heading down, they will continue to do so, and when they are on an upswing, such a change is semi-permanent. (This explains why so many people make the mistake of selling low and buying high.)

The 2020 political equivalent? Assuming a woman can’t win the presidency because Hillary Clinton did not. This is no small matter. A poll conducted by Ipsos last year found that 74 percent of voters said they would be “comfortable” with a female president, but only a third believed the same was true for their neighbors. Either a lot of people are lying to pollsters about their own beliefs and projecting outward, or they are more skeptical of their neighbors than warranted. Reminder: Clinton received almost 3 million more votes than Trump.

Finally, electability assumes there is a large base of voters who are looking for an excuse — any excuse — to abandon Trump for a reasonably acceptable Democrat. This could be true, but the more frightening converse might also be true: There are voters who don’t personally like Trump but could ultimately find a reason to vote for him. One reason Trump defied the odds and won the 2016 election was that some people decided party loyalty was more important than personal preference. It could happen again. And — here I will make a prediction — if the primaries result in a candidate that people think can beat Trump but few are actually excited about, it will make it much harder to defeat him. Enthusiasm matters.

Poll: Sanders leads in New Hampshire, but half of voters remain uncommitted

  Poll: Sanders leads in New Hampshire, but half of voters remain uncommitted Sanders appears to be in the lead in New Hampshire, but a new poll finds 30 percent of voters haven’t yet settled on a candidate.With the state’s first in the nation primary just three days away, pollsters found Sanders to have the support of 28 percent of likely Democratic voters, up from from 25 percent in January.

No one can tell you who can best ensure Democrats will win the White House in November. Rather, let me suggest this: Vote for the person you want to see as our next president. Instead of attempting to predict the future, show faith in it instead. It might just surprise you.

Read more:

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Progressives and moderates, don’t destroy each other. The enemy is Trump, not Clinton or Obama.

Karen Tumulty: Iowa could pick the big winner. But what’s really likely is more of a muddle.

Jennifer Rubin: Do Iowans want to eliminate candidates or select a president?

Paul Waldman: Democrats’ TV ads show how they’re trying to close the deal in Iowa

Karen Tumulty:Iowa is a test of whether Sanders’s surge will endure

E.J. Dionne Jr.: The Trump-induced agony of the Iowa voter

Sanders won, but he’s not the big story coming out of New Hampshire .
Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar may not have won, but they still claim victory.The New Hampshire primary may very well be remembered for the third- through fifth-place finishers and for how surprisingly close the race between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — the overwhelming favorite who won with 60 percent in 2016 — and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg was. Sanders was leading in the polls, but he nearly fell to the former Midwest mayor less than half his age.

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