The myth of ‘electability’

· long story short

I knew Al Gore was sunk when Patrick Moynihan, in the course of endorsing Bill Bradley for president in the primaries leading up to 2000, pronounced Al Gore “unelectable.” I didn’t agree that this was necessarily the case, but I did feel that this curse would become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
In OpinionJournal, Harold Bloom writes that Wesley Clark is electable and that the other Democratic candidates are not. Dean is frequently called unelectable, or his electability is called into question.
All of this is a way of talking about a gut sense and intangibles such as charisma and whether you turn off more people than you turn on. Some people may or may not be electable, but I don’t trust random commentators to discern this quality as if it’s a kind of aura that only they can see.
Frankly, I don’t even trust my own gut on this matter. I thought Jerry Brown was going to take the country by storm in 1992, especially when I saw my conservative father taking him seriously (while also seriously pondering another clearly unelectable candidate, Pat Buchanan).
If enough people vote together, anyone is electable.