Talk to Democratic voters and you get the sense that electability means something different to each person, fluid and ever-changing, if it means anything at all. “At this point I go back to Socrates: ‘I know that I know nothing,’ ” says Chris Dueker, a New Hampshire voter who describes himself as progressive. “I feel a lot of people are claiming that this candidate can’t win, only my candidate can win.”
“My feeling at this point is I know I don’t know and they don’t know,” Dueker adds. “Electability is completely impenetrable to me. I say this with some humility. I would prefer a progressive, but maybe Biden would be the best candidate.”
The shape-shifting concept of electability is one reason why so many candidates have enjoyed a brief bump in the polls only to lose their spot in the limelight to another candidate. The former senior campaign staffer says this was largely college-educated white voters “basically shopping for the flavor of the month” — first Kamala, then Beto, then Mayor Pete, then Warren, and on and on. “It’s the very same people moving around,” the former staffer says. That’s the fickle thing about electability: it’s self-reinforcing and self-defeating, as quick to materialize as it is to evaporate.