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Editorial: Darth Vader, Dark Horse Candidate

If you’re not excited yet about the possibilities in the 2016 presidential race, know that you aren’t alone in the galaxy.

According to analysts who are taking a summer break from more serious work, Darth Vader from the Star Wars films is “polling higher than all potential 2016 candidates.”

This all began with the work of the FiveThirtyEight blog, which calculated favorability ratings for Star Wars characters, from Luke Skywalker, at the zenith, to Jar Jar Binks, sometimes described as the “foolish Gungan from the planet Naboo,’’ at the bottom.

In a poll of more than 1,000 respondents, Skywalker rated just ahead of bad boy/hero Han Solo, and Yoda, the pointy-eared aquamarine Jedi master. The Wonkblog of The Washington Post then compared the ratings with those of real-life characters in the political realm. Darth Vader, an absent father who mercilessly blew up an entire planet — some might see him as a rather Nixonian figure — led all likely 2016 presidential contenders. Only Hillary Clinton came close, and she suffered the indignity of tying Boba Fett, the Mandalorian bounty hunter who would do anything for cash.

From there it was downhill fast: Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, all just ahead of another Star Wars villain, Emperor Palpatine, whom the FiveThirtyEight blog noted is “the actual personification of evil in the galaxy.” Then came Paul Ryan, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal, descending lower and lower in the polling netherworld, where Jeb Bush, Joe Biden and Rick Santorum languish.

Wonkblog declared that the numbers suggest that if “Star Wars were real and Darth Vader decided to enter the 2016 presidential race, he’d be the immediate front-runner.’’ As Yoda might say, skeptical we are. In addition to having to answer for the utter destruction of Alderaan, Vader lacks the common touch. He would be mercurial at press conferences, where he might use his mysterious powers to strangle aggressive reporters, and might likewise silence debate opponents. In any case, he would be more interested in empires than electoral politics.

The American Film Institute has rated Vader as the third greatest film villain of all time, behind Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates, but greatest in this case means memorable, not necessarily electable. (He’s just ahead of the Wicked Witch of the West and Nurse Ratched of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by the way.)

If this is any solace for potential candidates, they rank ahead of the aforementioned Binks, the much-scorned Star Wars figure. But even Binks has higher favorability than Congressional leaders John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Congress collectively is even lower.

It’s difficult to know what to make of congressional loathing, some of which is justified, and some of which seems cheap and easy. In any case, most members of Congress are re-elected; call it the revenge of the incumbents.

As for the presidential race, many Democrats say Hillary Clinton is their only hope, but that could change, and Republicans have time to settle on a champion. Luckily, 2016 is still far, far away.