For the longest of time, perhaps since when almost every home had a television, appearance became the new god of electability. Not understanding this is a weakness of the Democratic Party both nationally and locally. Forget about gerrymandering, forget about voter suppression, there are more Republicans than Democrats or Independents elected because of electability. And this is with having the most serious minority party – there are more registered Democrats and more registered Independents.
When the Republicans forget about electability their candidates get walloped like everyone else. Ever since Ronald Reagan, Republicans have understood that an established political resume can only get you so far. Charisma, believability, presence, and a brilliant team are the most important characteristics of a successful election. This is why there are upsets (at least in the eyes of the pundits). In Massachusetts Democrats decided to field a horrendous candidate for Senator and surprise, surprise she loses to a political lightweight. (Who in turn loses the next election when he goes against a popular and charismatic Democrat.) So what do the Democrats then do? They nominate the loser as their candidate for Governor. Once again, Massachusetts, with serious Democrat pluralities, with great support for key issues of the Party, gets walloped.
At times the Republicans forget this and they nominate a Tea Partier off of principles alone and the candidate is so wacked-out or with so little appeal that they possesses little chance of electability. Take the 2010 and 2012 Senatorial elections:
“In 2010, the GOP lost five of the seven Senate contests The Cook Political Report rated as toss-ups going into Election Day; in 2012, it lost eight of 10. When a party loses 13 of 17 toss-ups over two elections, it has a problem. In many cases, Republicans nominated horrifically flawed candidates who didn’t quite self-destruct but were too weak to win. In other cases, they nominated candidates who did self-destruct. And when these problematic candidates pulled the pin on the grenade, other GOP office-seekers in their states became collateral damage.”
“In 2010, yes, Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell blew elections that Republicans were on track to win. (The Nevada race that Angle lost was less of a sure thing—Harry Reid is underestimated as his enemies’ peril. But we’ll go with it.) In 2012, Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin lost elections that other Republicans could have won, but Todd Akin was not endorsed by any major national or local Tea Party organization.” http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2013/02/22/the_most_misleading_number_about_the_tea_party_and_the_senate.html
It will be interesting if the Republicans remember this lesson in time to nominate their next candidate for President. The Democrats, issue driven, mostly don’t accept the lesson of electability and only on occasion do issues and electability coincide.
The greatest arrogance regarding electability comes from the Democrats. This makes the elections coming up next year much more interesting than they should be. The Democrats have the issues that the majority of Americans support. But when you have candidates who are not liked or not trusted, then even the candidate with the most serious creds can lose.