Electability is a very slippery concept, especially in presidential elections, so caution should be taken when saying Jane Candidate can or can’t win a general election. Electability means different things to different people, but whatever it means to them, more Democrats than usual may be prioritizing it when deciding their primary vote in 2020.
When asked whether they would prefer a presidential candidate who “comes closest to [their] views on issues” or one “with the best chance to defeat Donald Trump,” a full 40 percent of Democratic primary voters said it was most important to them to beat President Trump, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted Feb. 24-27. A larger 56 percent said it was most important to agree with their candidate on the issues, but still — two-fifths of the party’s core voters prized electability over ideological purity.
True, this is far fewer than the share of Democrats who said this in a Monmouth University poll from late January. In that survey, 56 percent chose the more electable candidate, while 33 percent chose the candidate who agreed with them on the issues. However, the difference might be due to how the question was worded. Monmouth gave respondents a choice between “a Democrat you agree with on most issues but would have a hard time beating Donald Trump or a Democrat you do NOT agree with on most issues but would be a stronger candidate against Donald Trump.” Given that stark choice, it’s not all that surprising voters didn’t choose the candidate who they were explicitly told would have a difficult time defeating Trump….