A campaign that plays the electability card is by definition a campaign that is losing.
Voters never elect a candidate because they think he or she is more electable in the fall than their opponent.
There is a logical disconnect: The candidate who is losing usually argues electability. Voters don’t see how the loser can be more electable.
Mike Easley and Charles Sanders tried it against Harvey Gantt – in 1990 and 1996, respectively – and it didn’t work.
It didn’t help that electability was a code word for “he’s black.”
In 1980, George Bush argued that Ronald Reagan couldn’t win in the fall. In 1992, Bob Kerrey said the Republicans would crack open Bill Clinton like a soft peanut. That same year, in the Democratic primary for Governor here, Lacy Thornburg said the Republicans would do the same thing to Jim Hunt they did in 1984.
So the electability argument won’t work for Hillary Clinton now. It won’t work for Richard Moore, either, even if Democrats worry whether Bev Perdue’s campaign can keep her out of sight and out of trouble all the way through November.
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