The only political punditry you need

I vote in the Minnesota primary tomorrow, along with lots of people in states all across the country. There is a stultifying mass of punditry hovering over the country: ‘experts’ are all telling you who to vote for based on this mysterious thing called “electability”, on prognostications about matchups next November, on how many other people are voting for candidate X vs candidate Y. Your goal is to get on the winning bandwagon early, because as we all know, whoever guesses which candidate will win tomorrow gets fabulous prizes.

Oh, wait, no they don’t. You win nothing for picking the same candidate the most people pick.

So I have some advice for you. Ignore your friends and families. Never mind the statistics and the odds. Drop-kick FiveThirtyEight into an open sewer manhole. Fuck the commentators on CNN and Fox and MSNBC. Don’t trust me to tell you who to vote for.

Instead, be totally selfish, and think exclusively about which candidate you like best, who supports the policies you favor. The calculus of figuring out who your neighbors and the people of California and Texas will vote for is totally irrelevant. Go into that booth and vote your conscience. That’s all.

Wasn’t that easy?

Then go kick Chris Cilizza and whatever other goofball has been calling the horserace. That’s the fun part.


  1. aspleen says

    I kind of feel sorry for those who voted early in Minnesota and voted for Buttigieg, who will in all likelihood not reach the 15% viability level and qualify for delegates either statewide or in any congressional district. Buttigieg’s exit might boost Biden’s numbers in Minnesota though and net him some delegates.

  2. imback says

    I’m voting tomorrow for Warren. I have no idea how electable she is, but she is the one I think will make the best president.

  3. says

    aspleen: That’s criminal punditry, speculating about where Buttigieg voters will go. You don’t know, and it doesn’t matter — vote your conscience!

  4. aspleen says

    I think Buttigieg’s dropping out is pretty considerate of him, as it gives his supporters a chance to vote for their second choice on Super Tuesday. I will now make the brave prediction that they won’t vote for Klobuchar. ;-)

  5. says

    I think electability is important, but it’s way too early to predict it at this point. Anyway, my thinking goes, if the only thing a candidate has going for them is electability, then they probably don’t even have that.

    At this point, I’m thinking more about the electability in the primary election, not general. I plan to vote for my favorite–Warren, but if I were in a later state, and it became clear that it’s a Bernie/Biden faceoff, I’d vote for Bernie.

  6. says

    @#4, aspleen:

    If they vote as he directed, they will go for Biden. Because, hey, after complaining about Trump for 3 years, what could be better than nominating somebody who literally says they don’t want to make any substantial changes to the way the government has run under Trump? Sounds like a plan!

  7. microraptor says

    Last night, 60 Minutes interviewed Mike Bloomberg, which was painful to watch.

    Ole Mikey said that we need to choose a “moderate” such as himself because moderate centrists are the only ones who can defeat Trump in a general election and otherwise Democrats will lose all the gains they made in Congress.

    This is a common refrain, but it totally ignores the fact that four years ago the Democrats ran a moderate centrist candidate who promptly lost the election and the gains that Democrats have made since then have primarily been with extremely progressive choices.

    Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is ignore all the people who are saying we have to vote “strategically” or are yakking about electibility. That stuff is just BS so vote for who you want to.

  8. komarov says

    Actually, I’ve always wondered about those predictions and poll tracking while the polls are still open. Doesn’t that have a lot of potential to skew votes? And shouldn’t that be avoided so the poll results reflect the actual preferences of the electorate?
    If you manage to convince people that candidate Blockhead was trailing badly they might decide to cut their losses and vote for Bonk instead, who might not be as good as Blockhead but at least they are no Blorgle, who’d be terrible. And then it turns out that, oh, the prediction was slightly off – so sorry, it happens, but do tune in for the next vote – and now Bonk and Blockhead loose to Blorgle despite a promising early lead for the Blockites. Yay democracy?
    Why aren’t results confidential until after the fact, who tells some random people with a notepad or a microphone who they just voted for inside the polling station and why isn’t this sort of thing actively being discouraged?

    As an added bonus, it would avoid certain problems along the lines of “We can’t count” and “Tech is hard”. Or at least make the slightly less embarrassing as people can’t watch you screw basic democratic processes up live, even though they should have been established ages ago, and you knew exactly what was coming. (Although I am still hoping for a live poll that rolls over to negatives or NaNs at some point)

    On a related note, that whole primary thing you do in the US seems profoundly stupid. I guess a bunch of people now wasted – or had someone waste – their chance to get a say who might become presidential candidate? In an election system that usually offers voters a choice between hell and high water?
    Makes me wonder if there’s a special hallmark thank you card you can send to your drop-out favourite.

  9. says

    “Go into that booth and vote your conscience.”
    I won’t be voting in the primaries at all.
    My conscience prevents me from joining a political party, because I believe them to be a vestigial leftover like the electoral college. If it was up to me, both parties would be burned to the ground and rebuilt or replaced.
    That said, I favor any real progressive over a wishy washy centrist. So I wouldn’t vote for Pete or Biden even if I could.

  10. consciousness razor says

    If you somehow think the conditions which led to Trump’s presidency is a return to normalcy, then vote for someone who isn’t Bernie Sanders. Bloomberg maybe, since he might even cut you a check.
    Don’t do that, if you think our system and our lives are broken, that the leadership of both parties aren’t worth our trust and deference, that democracy matters in and out of the voting booth, that the working class needs middle class solidarity and not its fear, that moral clarity can cut through all the bullshit like nothing else and make a meaningful difference.

  11. leerudolph says

    Ray Ceeya @9: “I won’t be voting in the primaries at all. My conscience prevents me from joining a political party”. The first sentence doesn’t obviously follow from the second; at least in my state (MA), and I believe many others, an “unaffiliated” voter—someone who is not a member of any political party—can select a ballot of any party holding a primary election, and vote in that primary. I guess that such a person is then officially enrolled in that party, but it is possible to un-enroll from a party in many ways (although sometimes none of them will be immediate)—for instance, on one’s annual city or town census form. So if you can’t allow yourself to join a political party even very temporarily, I guess the first sentence does follow from the second for you, at least in MA. Is your conscience really that stringent?

  12. consciousness razor says

    So from that standpoint, Trump is a return to normalcy.

    I didn’t say Trump, but the pre-Trump conditions which led to him being elected. That is the awful reality a few years ago which some people are always trying to whitewash.
    But anyway, if what your conscience dictates is that you should vote for the rich oppressing the poor and against the types of progress you mentioned, then I said you should vote for someone who isn’t Bernie Sanders. Since you don’t have to vote this way and nobody with a conscience should think anything like this, you should vote for Bernie Sanders.

    The choices are not between having single payer health care or not; having the rich pay their fair share or not; having an adequately funded social safety net or not. No, none of those things is going to happen. Forget it. Basic economic justice is not going to happen in the near future.

    Because you refuse to do anything about it. The minimal thing would be to vote for it — forget about all other forms of political power that you have — but you can’t even stomach the idea of doing that.

    Rather, the choice is between keeping our small gains, or losing them, and going back to the days when the plutocracy really did run everything.

    We are in the days when the plutocracy runs everything. That’s exactly why we have to take it back from them. You claimed it’s like the middle of Empire Strikes Back, not like the end of Return of the Jedi.

    We are not going to make any significant gains this election;

    Because you refuse to make any, while many others aren’t refusing to do so. We will just have to see who wins, eh? If what you say and do isn’t too discouraging, you should be happy if and when you lose this argument. And you shouldn’t be too happy to make it in the first place.

    And that includes having the Democrats nominate someone who won’t be poison to most of the American electorate.

    All you’re doing is calling a democratic socialist “poison.” There’s no argument here.

  13. consciousness razor says

    I shouldn’t have said “take it back.” We’ve never had it and simply have to take it, because there is nothing else to take.

  14. says

    well, Buttigieg going out will boost probably all of candidates considering the share of votes so there is possibility some of them will cross the 15% threshold.

    Also, tactical voting is always an interesting issue. “vote whoever suits you best” is one approach and “vote to influence towards the best possible outcome” is another, some people choose one, some another.
    Similar issue comes with a long term strategy – is it better to risk 4 more years of Trump, hoping that finally DNC will start turning to represent people like you or should you “vote blue no matter who” knowing that it means you will forever have the same choice between Donald Trump and Ronald Hump and you will be taken for granted, your opinion doesn’t matter for the powers at the top, because, as Bill Maher said “you have nowhere else to go”

  15. iiandyiiii says

    Most pundits are useless, but I follow Nate Silver and 538 religiously for one simple reason – I don’t want to be surprised. If Trump is going to win again, I want to be mentally prepared for it, as much as I can. And 538’s track record is very good, such that I feel like I’ll at least know, going on, where my expectations should be rather than risk being utterly and shockingly devastated on election night. I’ll be upset no matter what if Trump wins, but I think my heart can handle it if the expectations are set over the months leading up to it rather than finding out all at once.

  16. Porivil Sorrens says


    Please stop pretending that your views represent anything more than a small minority of American voters, or that you have the votes to actually win an election.

    The time to do that is when there is actual evidence to support that belief, sufficient to overcome the likelihood of the alternative.

    Given that he’s performed exceptionally well both now and in 2016, that several polls have him with a high projected chance of beating Trump, and that all of his major planks poll exceptionally well irrespective of party affiliation, that time is not now.

    This is just kneejerk pessimism, and you are not going to convince anyone with factually unsupported pleadings like this.

    The assertion that McGovern was anything resembling left wing is so wildly incorrect that I have to doubt any further political arguments you make far more than I did before.

    McGovern was a centrist liberal, and by the standards of any same country, even at the time, he would be considered center-right.

  17. imback says

    Here in the middle of The Empire Strikes Back, our ship is embedded in the hideous maw of a monstrous orange space slug, and our choice is either to hunker down and settle for the centrist (as was done with Kerry, McCain, Romney, and Clinton) or to energize the base and turn out and go for it.

  18. consciousness razor says

    If we’re going to compare it to an election from that era, look at 1968. The pro-war candidate glides through …

    Humphrey did not compete in the primaries, leaving favorite sons to collect favorable surrogates, notably United States Senator George A. Smathers from Florida, United States Senator Stephen M. Young from Ohio, and Governor Roger D. Branigin of Indiana.
    Humphrey’s campaign concentrated on winning the delegates in non-primary states, where party leaders controlled the delegate votes.

    … and is handed the win, to much consternation. Then we have the riots at the convention. (By that, I mean it was the police who were rioting against the various protestors, journalists, etc.)
    Also, if Nixon and Wallace had a baby, it would totally be Trump….. Nixon won, by the way.

  19. Porivil Sorrens says


    Porvil, McGovern was the left wing candidate by 1972 standards and by American standards, whether or not those standards would still apply today or anywhere else in the world.

    No, he was not in fact, a leftist. Words mean things, and his policies were liberal centrism by definition – definitions which predate his presidential campaign by at least a century, by the by. There were actual leftists in politics at the time, and he was far, far to the right of them.

  20. consciousness razor says

    Sorry, I meant to give link with the quote, which came from wikipedia. 1968 Democratic primary
    Or you could look at the 1988 election. Jesse Jackson didn’t get the nomination, what with the crowded field of centrists like Biden and Gore and Gephardt (and a quasi-liberal Simon). But then again, Dukakis sure as hell didn’t win in the general election.
    We could talk all fucking day about centrists losing elections for the Democrats.

  21. jack16 says

    Top democrats don’t care if they lose.

    Warren voted to give seventy BIllion to military industrialusts (Bernie voted against); I count that as a vote for war.
    Its amazing how terrified many voters are of socialism since few would give up thier social benefits. Social security, the police force, the fire department, the library, unionsm, etc.

    The great crutic of capitalism is, of course, Karl Marx; its remarkable how few of the “anti-socialists” have any idea what he said.


  22. says

    leerudolph @14
    Closed Primary here in Oregon. And yes my conscious really is. The DNC is ruled by the same league of billionaire elites that run the GOP. The fact that Bloomberg is running is clear evidence of that. The parties only exist to move money around and reinforce the status quo. The Democratic establishment shifted right of center decades ago and now we only have a choice between center right and hard right.
    On top of that I strongly object to the lack of democratic values in the procedures of the democratic party. Get rid of the super delegates. Open the primaries, and obey the will of the people.
    A brokered convention that chooses someone other than the winner of the primary will result in a Trump re-election.

  23. says

    Artor @13
    Yeah, he’s pretty dense. You should read some of his other posts. Not quite as bad as Q-anon, but pretty close.

  24. says

    I just want to point out that almost everyone has dropped out and those of us in Indiana won’t vote for another 2 months.

  25. billseymour says

    Speaking of punditry, I just turned off PBS Newshour about two thirds of the way through the “Politics Monday” segment. Amy Walter could hardly construct a simple declarative sentence without the word, “electability,” in it. There was no data about who might be “electable” and who might not be. It was just dog whistles for the neolibs all the way down.

  26. Ishikiri says

    I’m really bothered by “electability” arguments against Sanders. He’s one of the most, if not the most, popular politicians in the country. Trump is still broadly unpopular, and won in 2016 through the Electoral College after a low-turnout election. As I see it, the only additional advantage he has this time is incumbency. So anything the Democrats do that ends up disengaging likely voters is going to be their downfall. A brokered convention that gives the nomination to Biden, or more disastrously Bloomberg, without a plurality of primary votes will amount to throwing the election to Trump. If Biden gets the nomination with a plurality of primary votes, then he might be able to ride to the White House on a wave of Obama nostalgia, but it’s not something I’m at all confident in as he isn’t an inspiring person on his own. As for Sanders being a socialist, I don’t think the word has much power as a) I and a lot of people my age and younger hold what would be characterized as socialist views, and b) they falsely and endlessly tried to smear Obama with that label.

    As a bit of an aside, the State of California has a Democratic governor, Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the legislature, and an exploding homelessness problem. To be fair, there is an ongoing debate on how address the problem because it can’t be ignored anymore, but the fact that only piecemeal measures have been passed thus far indicates that there is a lot of torpor due to landowner and big business interests WITHIN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. Sanders is polling high in California right now, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

    Also, lest you want to shit on California for being an outlier, I’ll note that other places under Democratic control like Washington and New York also have growing problems with homelessness, if not to the same extreme.

  27. llyris says

    USA politics is insane.
    What the hell is ‘electability’ anyway? Why would you vote for not-your-preferred-candidate just because you think other people might like them more that the candidate you actually want? That makes no sense. What if everyone does that? You end up with the popular candidate only because everyone thought they were popular, and not because anyone wants them or thinks they’re capable of the job.

  28. says

    Following the drop out of Buttigieg and Klobuchar, it’s looking more and more like Bernie vs Biden, so I’m leaning more towards Bernie instead of Warren. I’m worried by the possibility that Warren would not throw her support behind Sanders in a contested convention, and there’s also the possibility that she’ll get <15% in my state, which would lead to her delegates being split between Sanders and Biden.

    I also disobeyed PZ’s advice and checked 538’s predictions. And I have to say, they’re making predictions about Super Tuesday, but nowhere could I find predictions about electability vs Trump. People who keep on talking about electability in the general election are just speculating at this point. I, strategic voter, find such advanced speculation pointless.

  29. stroppy says

    So somebody Man-On-The-Street-In-The-News somewhere said “electability” then some other people say “Huh, ‘electability’ I know that word maybe I can hang my hat on it” and then the media says “OK yeah, let’s discuss ‘electability’!” then other people start saying “electability is a thing now, I saw it in the news, I want some of that thing in the news” then more people start saying “electability” even in their sleep and pretty soon it really is a thing (like grumpy cat only without the humor, personality, or sense of self awareness) and Things in politics make their on reality. So now Electability is important; a big, stupid important Thing… sort of like our President.

  30. says

    @#35, llyris:

    “Electability” is a code word for “conforms to existing norms”, basically.

    Consider the following: in 1992, Bill Clinton won against George W. Bush. This victory has been used ever since Clinton left office to argue that right-of-center “Centrist” Democrats are “electable” where candidates further to the left are not. (This despite the fact that exit polls at the time strongly suggested that Clinton, who won with a plurality, only won because Ross Perot acted as a spoiler for G. H. W. Bush; Perot voters gave Bush as their second choice 5 times out of 6, which means that if they had all voted without Perot in the contest Bush would have won.) Despite this “obvious” conclusion, nobody campaigning as a Centrist has won since then — Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton all ran as Centrists, and lost. Barack Obama was in fact a Centrist, but campaigned as being left of center, and won. To find a candidate who campaigned as being left of center who lost, you have to go back to McGovern in 1972, before a majority of current eligible voters were even born, and yet McGovern’s loss is considered a crushing argument against running a left-of-center candidate 40+ years later.