THE BLOG

John Edwards + Ben Harper = Most Electable?

12/21/2007 03:07 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

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.

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Ari Melber writes for The Nation, where this post first appeared.