Should Liberal Voters Consider “Electability?”
With a Republican majority in the Senate and a Republican president, liberal voters hope to see big changes in the Executive and Legislative Branches after the 2020 election.
But as the presidential primaries draw closer, some liberal voters voters may find themselves torn between two options. Should they vote for the candidate they think has the best chance of defeating President Trump in the general election, or the candidate whose values most closely align with their own?
The case for voting based on perceived electability
There’s an obvious case for casting one’s vote based on a candidate’s perceived electability: increasing the odds of winning the election.
But beyond achieving this goal, liberal voters might also believe more electable candidates are better suited to govern. Candidates who are seen as more easily electable generally represent a larger proportion of the electorate and are thus true representatives of the people. They also typically have charisma that may help advance initiatives across party lines.
The case for values-based voting
Voting based on one’s values is the best way to ensure that the best, most fit candidate will win the election – the candidate whose stances resonate with the most people. But there’s another strong case for values-based voting: ending bias.
Candidates’ perceived electability is often based on their identity. Male or female; wealthy or middle-class; white or a racial minority; these characteristics and others influence whether voters believe a candidate has potential to win.
Unfortunately, hypothesizing about a candidate’s electability based on his or her identity perpetuates bias and quashes diversity. Vales-based voting, by contrast, eliminates identity bias and focuses instead on shared goals and desired outcomes.
How liberals choose to vote
According to a recent poll published in The Hill, liberal voters claim that electability is not the most important trait they look for in a candidate. Most liberal voters base their decisions on a candidate’s values, not her or his chance of winning in the election.
Of course, poll responses may be more aspirational than accurate. In other words, respondents may think they vote based on values even if perceived electability weighed heavily in their decision, perhaps subconsciously.
Still, these findings are promising for the liberal party’s future, as values-based voting is the best way to ensure that the government represents its people and meets their needs.