Who’s the most electable candidate? The one you like
Electability was a significant force motivating voters in the 2022 Democratic primaries.
But what is it? What makes one candidate seem like they could get votes from a majority of voters while another one couldn’t?
Objectively, political scientists like myself have done a lot of research on what types of candidates win and lose. We find that moderate candidates tend to win general elections more often than far-left or far-right candidates do. Despite the widespread assumption that women are less electable than men, research shows that women candidates are at least as likely to succeed as men. That was true in 2018 and 2020, as well as in 2022 primaries for Congress and governor. It’s especially likely when an election year is dominated by scandal, because women are stereotypically viewed as more honest than men.
In legislatures, incumbents probably have a better chance of getting caught at inappropriate texting than they are of losing renomination in their primary or failing to win. And we know that when incumbents do lose, it’s because their challengers surpassed the fundraising threshold that could match the incumbent’s advantages in media coverage, name recognition and other factors, no matter how much the incumbent spent.