Beating Trump as "Job One": Media Framing of Electability in the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary

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Bachman, Jenna Nicole
Coleman, Linda K.
The 2020 Democratic Primary field was the most diverse in history but narrowed to two septuagenarian white men, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, with the former winning the primary. Many candidates of color and women candidates left the race before voting began; consequently, many voters were not able to vote for a candidate who was not a white man. “Electability,” a state in which a candidate is perceived to have qualities that make success in a general election likely, frequently arose in media discussions of the candidates. This thesis examines the media frames surrounding electability by analyzing the myths that explain Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss, which elevate different demographics as important for Democrats to win over for success in 2020. It then investigates how their concerns inform two contradictory prototypes for what an “electable” candidate looks like and the impact these prototypes have had on women and minority candidates.