Many Republicans, including some staunch conservatives, have made endorsements in the 2008 Presidential race citing "electability" as a major factor in their decisions. This raises the question of what "electability" is and how we determine its applicability to a given candidate.
Presumably, electability is the ability to win a given election. Since nobody knows the future, no one really knows whether a given candidate is "electable" or not. We can only make educated guesses.
How is it that some candidates are seen as electable and others are not? The main determiner of electability seems to be early poll numbers of candidates. But poll numbers before an election campaign has even begun are mainly a reflection of name recognition. Such numbers do not have a strong correlation with the eventual outcomes of elections.
How is it that some candidates have better name recognition? Their name recognition is basically a reflection of how much positive media coverage they have received. Should Republicans pick our nominee based on how much positive press he has received from the liberal media?
The media isn't interested in helping to elect Republicans. Republicans who get good press are usually doing something liberal like attacking conservatives or pushing liberal ideas. The media is always happy to promote the most moderate candidate in a Republican primary to avert the possibility that a conservative might win. The good press stops abruptly if the moderate actually wins the nomination. Candidates who have survived on good media coverage can quickly be destroyed when the media starts covering them critically, analyzing every word, and digging up scandals. Republicans should look for a battle-tested candidate, rather than one who will charm the media to victory.
When Ronald Reagan ran for President in 1976 and 1980, all sorts of people said that he wasn't electable, as he was far too conservative. He went on to win two huge landslides.
In 2000, some in the media claimed that George W. Bush was too conservative to be electable. As we now know, that wasn't true. Yet the media promoted John McCain so much that a McCain staffer referred to the media as their base.
Meanwhile, Bob Dole was always "electable," despite the fact that he never actually got elected President. In 1995, polls showed Dole trouncing Bill Clinton. But Clinton ended up winning because he was a better candidate.
How do we know who's really electable? The best we can do is analyze how the candidates' views correspond with those of the public, and what the likely outcome of a debate will be after both sides have had their say. We can also examine the candidates' weaknesses, and how damaging they will be once they are exploited. Such a method is far better than simply looking at polls of uninformed voters.
We can impose some reasonable standards. People who have never been elected to any office don't get elected President unless they are successful military generals (and the last time that happened was 1952). For some strange reason, US Senators are seen as instantly credible Presidential candidates despite the fact that no sitting Senator has been elected President since 1960 (and JFK was helped by fraud). Before that, it was 1920.
Republicans should decide who to support based on who they believe would be the best President. If everybody declines to support a good candidate on the belief that he is "not electable," this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We should pick our own nominees, not let the liberal media do it for us.