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  • Writer's pictureMeredith Montalto

Electability is a Fallacy.

annoyed woman looking at phone

It’s the week of the first round of debates among the Democratic presidential candidates, so there will be no shortage of analysis. But the one topic that makes my blood boil is this angst about “electability.”

I had quite literally just finished a rant about it when I came back to my desk at work and saw this article about how Democrats prefer Sen. Elizabeth Warren as their presidential candidate – as long as “the issue of electability is taken out of the equation.”

Deep breath.

I loathe this manufactured predicament. To me, the whole premise is based on a defeatist notion that some candidates are inherently un-electable, so even trying to build a campaign or convince voters they are credible and legitimate options is a waste of time.

Look, some candidates are kooky and are long-shots for sure. But why should voters have to accept a candidate they are not passionate about because that person is supposedly “electable,” whereas others, according to establishment thinking, are not?

As someone who works in issue advocacy and communications, I am dumbfounded by the idea that people would simply sit back and not even mount an effort to support someone they believe in because the pundits have already downplayed that candidate’s chances or bestowed another with the chosen crown. I don’t look at a piece of legislation that has never been passed or a tough issue campaign and accept that just because it has not passed to date, it is “unpassable” or the issue is “unwinnable.”

No, I work with my client to build a coalition, messaging, allies and a winning strategy. We don’t go with the defeatist mindset of, “Oh well, it hasn’t been done before, why even try?”

Instead, we make the case. We craft the message, we build the allies, we dig in for the hard work. We put our best effort forward.

Electability is a fallacy. It is based on the past and not the future. It is based on who has won before, not who can win next. It is based on fear, not hope and hard work and opportunity. Every candidate is “unelectable” until they win. Remember, most experts thought President Trump was unelectable – and here we are.

Candidates are electable if we elect them.

So the next time you’re told someone is unelectable, something is unwinnable, something is impossible, your response should be: They are electable. It is winnable. It is possible.



Meredith Montalto is a director in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia office.


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