I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next US general election. I also didn’t know what was going to happen in the US electoral primaries, although I don’t think there’s any great shame in admitting the current situation isn’t what I anticipated.

It seems highly likely, at this point, that Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate, barring the kind of machinations that haven’t been seen since Andrew Jackson’s day. The Democratic primary process is far closer, although Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by a comfortable-looking margin at the moment.

Mr Trump is a squalid, crooked neo-fascist – basically Silvio Berlusconi with added racism. Anyone saying they know exactly why he’s popular is full of shit, but it’s clearly a combination of angry white bigotry, disillusionment with Washington’s specific flavour of insider crookery, and susceptibility to the daft concept of career success as a marker of general merit (the latter is also why people unfortunately listen to Richard Dawkins’ views on Muslim theology and Barry Humphries’ views on gender theory).

Various people in the pro-Clinton and pro-Sanders camps have suggested over the last couple of months that their candidate is electable, whilst the other candidate is un-electable. I’ve seen more Clinton fans go down this route than Sanders fans, but not by a huge margin.

There are arguments why this might be the case for either candidate. Mr Trump’s success is based on disillusioned white working class male voters, and these are also Mr Sanders’ strong group by a wide margin. On the other hand, Ms Clinton has managed to combine strong popularity among black voters – whose increased turnout compared to previous years was important in President Obama’s success – with grumpy acceptance among moderate centrist Republicans (including former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg) as a tolerable alternative to Mr Trump.

But with these good arguments on either side, and given the extent to which punditry in this Presidential race has already failed dismally, anyone who says “you should vote for Ms Clinton/Mr Sanders in the primary because they’re the only one who’s electable” is an absurd arrogant fool.

3 thoughts on “Electability and absurd arrogance

  1. I’ve arrived at the mind-boggling point where I’m hoping Trump wins the Republican nomination because I’m (99%) sure he’s unelectable in a general election. Ted Cruz on the other hand would be, if anything, worse than Trump as Commander in Chief (he’s not as unpleasantly thuggish but he’s probably crazier). And yet – paradoxically – Cruz is probably more electable in a national campaign, and I think he might even run Clinton close.

    On the Democratic side, it looks like a one-horse race to me at this point. Sanders needed to defy the polls in Florida to still be in with a chance. And he didn’t. Clinton’s lead is just to big right now and even if Sanders wins the remaining big states, he’s extremely unlikely to do so by a wide enough margin.

    Personally I think Clinton will be a terrible US president. She’s exactly the kind of pragmatic corporatist that America desperately needs to escape from. But she’s just about got it sewn up at this point.

    In a Clinton Vs Trump election there’s likely to be only one winner. Though there is one potentially disruptive variable… Clinton’s past. She’s weathered all manner of minor scandals, but if some hitherto unknown skeleton is discovered in her closet… and if it happens at the wrong stage in the election campaign… it could theoretically derail her, and allow Trump to win by default.

    And that’s not an entirely unrealistic scenario. Sleep tight.

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