Former Vice President Joe Biden has been leading Democratic primary polls since before he announced that he was running for president, and the main argument in his favor is that he is more moderate than his competitors, and therefore, more electable in a general election.
Biden's wife, Jill, laid out that electability case in a jarringly blatant way during a New Hampshire campaign event on Thursday. Even if you like another candidate's policies better, Jill said, you should still vote for Joe.
"So, yes, you know, your candidate might be better on, I don't know, health care, than Joe is, but you've got to look at who's going to win this election, and maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, 'Okay, I personally like so-and-so better,' but your bottom line has to be that we have to beat [President Donald] Trump," Jill Biden said.
Dr. Jill Biden urges voters to consider her husband's electability, saying: "your candidate might be better on, I d… https://t.co/gHo2BfzbEG— MSNBC (@MSNBC)1566257280.0
The electability argument is an uninspiring one to make for a candidate, because it's so blatantly political. The candidates perceived as most electable are often the ones who stick as closely as possible to the status quo while leaning just enough to one side to call themselves "liberal" or "conservative." By doing so, they can theoretically appeal to more swing voters.
The most electable candidates are not always best suited to come out of a primary. President Donald Trump rolled over numerous politicians perceived as more electable during the 2016 Republican primary. And as his defeat of Hillary Clinton indicates, ideas of electability can be fatally narrow.
This appeal to the anti-Trump sentiments of Democratic primary voters seems both a little desperate and also unnecessary right now, considering Biden is still the well-established front-runner. But, she's also only saying what analysts and observers have been saying about Biden all along. Whether they are right is yet to be seen.
Biden still holds double-digit leads in most national polls, with either Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in second place.