I made the comment, a week or two ago, that the metaphor of the horserace to talk about the primary elections seems like a good one, what with the questions of who is winning, who is gaining, who is dropping back, etc, etc, etc., but this year it seems like the sports metaphor that comes to mind is the NFL playoffs: Team/candidate A will do well if team/candidate B beats team/candidate C in the first round, but if team/candidate C wins, then for team/candidate A to advance, they will have to both beat team/candidate B and hope that team/candidate D beats team/candidate C in a different state a week later.
To some extent, the exercise of choosing a candidate is a lot like that, anyway. The Party has to decide (a) who would make a good President, (2) who would match up well with the other candidate or candidates, and (iii) who would move the Party in the direction we want to go (taking into account the effect of top of the ticket on the other candidates. Generally, I take electability into account. I do not want the next President to be from the Other Party. The fact that all of my Party’s candidates are far superior (in my estimate) to all of the Other Party’s candidates is not a coincidence. On the other hand, if I am feeling confident, I will likely prefer a candidate I judge to have a, oh, 56% chance of winning and extraordinary policies, instincts and abilities to a candidate that I judge to have a 59% chance of winning and quite good policies, instincts and abilities. But those percentages are impossible to judge with that kind of accuracy, aren’t they?
Matthey Yglesias looks at Head-to-Head matchups and sees that John Edwards has a distinct advantage in the relevant polls and says that “I think you do need to count this as a serious point in Edwards’ favor when you combine it with the considerable merits of the policy positions he’s staked out.” Similarly, he points out that (according to the same polls) John McCain has a huge advantage over his fellow Republicans.
If I were a Republican, this might make me think twice. As I am a Democrat, I’m inclined to think that despite the slight advantage John Edwards holds, there’s no particular reason to prioritize electability over policy, instinct and ability in this election. Particularly when you keep in mind that anybody who wins a primary election is clearly capable of running a very good campaign, which counts for a lot.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,