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The electability conundrum

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Election 2020 Debate candidates
From left, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Andrew Yang participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit.
Paul Sancya | AP

When asked what they most want in a presidential candidate, Democrats overwhelmingly respond with: someone who can beat Donald Trump. But which candidate is most likely to do that? Which candidate is most electable?

That’s the question being posed by many electability voters – and polls show they make up the majority of the party. When asked which candidate is most likely to defeat Trump, Joe Biden polls strongest. But when those same voters were asked who they would make president with a “magic wand,” Elizabeth Warren was the clear winner. Should primary voters focus on beating Trump? Or instead choose the candidate they believe is best for the country?

Thursday on MPR News with Kerri Miller, two political scientists weighed in on the electability enigma. Is picking a candidate who can’t lose a viable strategy to win?


  • Brandon Rottinghaus, professor of political science at the University of Houston and co-host of the podcast “Party Politics

  • Elizabeth Cobbs, professor of history at Texas A&M University and a senior fellow at Stanford

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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