Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Electability Doesn't Matter to Republicans Anymore

Fox has fed its viewers an image of Joe Biden as a frail, feeble, senile, bumbling idiot who can't walk 10 feet without stumbling over something. Cable TV's #1 entertainment network (higher ratings than E!, MTV, or Comedy Central) has done this so often that the viewers have come to truly believe it. Completely. And that has consequences, maybe not such good ones. Specifically, they have come to believe that Biden is a pushover and any Republican who can say: "Let's go Brandon!" can beat him easily. While Biden might be beatable, it is definitely not the case that any random Republican can beat him with one hand tied behind his back. After all, in the past 100 years, only four elected sitting presidents have been defeated by the other party (Herbert Hoover in 1932, Jimmy Carter in 1980, George H.W. Bush in 1992, and Donald Trump in 2020). Beating Biden will require the right candidate, the right message, a well-oiled and well-financed campaign, and a fair bit of luck.

Republican voters think that knocking off Biden will be like playing patty cake. This means that "electability" is now low on their list of important characteristics a candidate needs to have. After the Republicans' poor showing in the midterms, "electability" was #1 in the minds of most Republican voters. Now it is way down the list. Donald Trump's rivals are all making the case that they are electable and Trump, with his myriad legal problems, is not. But if Republican primary voters think any Republican can beat Biden easily, they may prioritize someone they love (but who can't win) above someone they don't love (but who can win). On the whole, this attitude helps Trump, and hurts all the others. It certainly wasn't Fox's goal, in harping on how Biden is a senile old codger who can barely get out of his rocking chair on his own, to make "electability" irrelevant.

The data back this up. Among Republicans who get most of their news from Fox, Trump has the edge on "who can beat Biden" over DeSantis by 40 points. Comments from likely Republican primary voters about Biden make this clear. Joanie Pellett (Georgia) said: "It's just one gaffe after another." Rick Danowsky (Iowa) said of Biden: "What strength as a candidate? Does he have any?" Jack Seward (Iowa) said: "He's a trainwreck." But not all Republicans are so optimistic. Don Beebout (Iowa) said: "He [Biden] may be easy to beat—if we get the right candidate." (V)

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