Joe Biden and the Phantom “Electability” Argument

Kevin E. Schmidt/Quad-City Times via ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan thinks the press is being too easy on Joe Biden:

As Iowa journalist Robert Leonard talks to voters around his state, he finds himself baffled at the national portrayal of Joe Biden’s dominance in the presidential campaign….He shakes his head at the extensive coverage and commentary that depicts Biden as almost a shoo-in for a nomination that’s more than a year away.

I keep hearing this, but I’ve never seen it. Can someone please give me an example of Biden being treated as a shoo-in?

One example: CNN’s morning briefing newsletter recently called Biden “the most formidable threat” to President Trump’s reelection chances.

CNN is far from alone. It’s common across the national media to see Biden pegged as the safest candidate for Democrats to put up to unseat Trump. He’s got that secret sauce: electability.

Saying that Biden, the frontrunner in all the polls, provides the most formidable threat to Trump is not even close to calling him a shoo-in, nor does it say anything about his electability. So where does this come from?

I’m pretty sure I’ve read at least a dozen pieces complaining about Biden’s supposed electability for every piece that actually says Biden is the most electable candidate. In fact, let’s check that out. Here are the top results from a Google search for “Biden electable”:

You’d think that in a column headlined “Joe Biden and the ‘electability’ delusion,” Sullivan could manage to provide at least one example of Biden being called the most electable candidate, but she can’t. Or doesn’t. Or something. Like everyone else, she complains about this phantom argument, but can’t really point to anyone making it.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate