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Median Voter Theorem

1Historygenius
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6/8/2013 7:33:46 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I felt that this video was very interesting.

http://m.youtube.com...
"The chief business of the American people is business." - Calvin Coolidge

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Stephen_Hawkins
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6/8/2013 8:10:06 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
It doesn't hold, as proven by Thatcher (or I imagine Reagan, but not American). People can be swayed by good arguments. The Median Voter Theorem (or the battle for the centre in the UK) is based on the principle that parties control their bases, and they are equally numbered, so you need to win the center to win the election. However:

1) This assumes all voters vote. If you can make those who usually do not vote (students for example), vote for you, you don't need the center. Moreover, imagine instead of being able to catch "everyone" to your left, when you get to the middle the far left are so disillusioned they don't vote. Moreover, your opponent is centre-right. Now, you've lost the election. This threat happens a lot in democracies, albeit more often in non-two-party systems.
2) This assumes that politicians' rhetoric or argument is without value or ideology. In reality, politicians usually have good ideas (though now we're seeing a lack of them in the US/UK, in Germany, Spain, and other nations the leaders are much more strong in this regard). Or, politicans are populist (Greece for example with the new radical right). These convince people to move towards their ideology, instead of the politician moving to the people's ideology. To paraphrase Thatcher, she doesn't move to the centre, the centre moves to her.
3) Like most of the videos, it slightly ignores the real world. In reality, there isn't a "constant stream of people of all ideologies" across the parties. Taking the original stance, "far right" is of course not even left-wing Democrats, but much further than that. Almost all American candidates, whether left-wing Democrat or right-wing Republican, support Capitalism with some regulation, upholding a liberal democracy, the family unit (though ideas of it change) and equality of opportunity and foundational equality and formal equality. In other words, all parties are almost entirely liberal. They just vary on whether they're neo-liberal, liberal conservatives, or modern/social liberals. Secondly, people change astoundingly rapidly, instead of having constant ideology. Take the UK again: Liberal Democrats among students support was 50%+ in 2010. Two years on, it plummeted to record lows in around 1/6th of support. Party support changes rapidly and quickly and easily, instead of the constant stream assumed in the video. Why is this important? It means you can hedge your bets by staying left-wing if the right-wing are flailing, or the reverse (look at 80s UK under Thatcher again, or the right now in the UK). Or, in case of great sympathy, you can run astonishing policies and still get elected (US 1964 after JFK, I think).

Now, to make it clear, I think it gets a fair few things right. Such as how people in charge usually turn more centrist over time. Also, leaders become more centrist to garner more support. However, its end conclusion is a case of going from purely analytic to the conclusion, without actually testing it against real world events. In practice, it leaves out too many variables that have a more than decisive impact.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

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1Historygenius
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6/9/2013 7:04:21 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/8/2013 8:10:06 AM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
It doesn't hold, as proven by Thatcher (or I imagine Reagan, but not American). People can be swayed by good arguments. The Median Voter Theorem (or the battle for the centre in the UK) is based on the principle that parties control their bases, and they are equally numbered, so you need to win the center to win the election. However:

1) This assumes all voters vote. If you can make those who usually do not vote (students for example), vote for you, you don't need the center. Moreover, imagine instead of being able to catch "everyone" to your left, when you get to the middle the far left are so disillusioned they don't vote. Moreover, your opponent is centre-right. Now, you've lost the election. This threat happens a lot in democracies, albeit more often in non-two-party systems.
2) This assumes that politicians' rhetoric or argument is without value or ideology. In reality, politicians usually have good ideas (though now we're seeing a lack of them in the US/UK, in Germany, Spain, and other nations the leaders are much more strong in this regard). Or, politicans are populist (Greece for example with the new radical right). These convince people to move towards their ideology, instead of the politician moving to the people's ideology. To paraphrase Thatcher, she doesn't move to the centre, the centre moves to her.
3) Like most of the videos, it slightly ignores the real world. In reality, there isn't a "constant stream of people of all ideologies" across the parties. Taking the original stance, "far right" is of course not even left-wing Democrats, but much further than that. Almost all American candidates, whether left-wing Democrat or right-wing Republican, support Capitalism with some regulation, upholding a liberal democracy, the family unit (though ideas of it change) and equality of opportunity and foundational equality and formal equality. In other words, all parties are almost entirely liberal. They just vary on whether they're neo-liberal, liberal conservatives, or modern/social liberals. Secondly, people change astoundingly rapidly, instead of having constant ideology. Take the UK again: Liberal Democrats among students support was 50%+ in 2010. Two years on, it plummeted to record lows in around 1/6th of support. Party support changes rapidly and quickly and easily, instead of the constant stream assumed in the video. Why is this important? It means you can hedge your bets by staying left-wing if the right-wing are flailing, or the reverse (look at 80s UK under Thatcher again, or the right now in the UK). Or, in case of great sympathy, you can run astonishing policies and still get elected (US 1964 after JFK, I think).

Now, to make it clear, I think it gets a fair few things right. Such as how people in charge usually turn more centrist over time. Also, leaders become more centrist to garner more support. However, its end conclusion is a case of going from purely analytic to the conclusion, without actually testing it against real world events. In practice, it leaves out too many variables that have a more than decisive impact.

Richard Nixon also works here. He had all the Republicans under him, as well as people wishing to end the Vietnam War with honor. Finally, he appealed to the "silent majority" of the United States.
"The chief business of the American people is business." - Calvin Coolidge

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Wnope
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6/10/2013 12:34:41 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Median voter theorem is quite solid, but it only works under certain conditions.

Namely, you have two candidates, non-discrete policy choices, and a single spectrum along which voter preferences can be placed, whoever gets a majority of votes wins, voters vote for whoever best represents their views, and candidate ability to gauge where they and their competitor are on the spectrum.

So say candidates are arguing about abortion with a spectrum of -10 to 10 where -10 is "abortion is genocide" and 10 is "abortion for all no matter what."

If you look at the entire electorate, you usually get a normal curve where equal numbers are for -10 and 10, -9 and 9, etc.

Now, take the Republican primary. The voters would be a normal curve stretching from, say, -10 to 0. The winner will be whoever is able to get their position to -5 since no matter what the other candidate does he'll get a minority of votes.

Now, put that same guy in the general election. If his opponent takes a stance of -4, he wins all votes from -4 to 10. So he'll have to move towards the center until he hits 0. Otherwise he is guaranteed to lose the majority.

Whenever the above conditions fail, the median voter theorem probably won't apply.

But when presuppositions do hold, it's mathematically proven that this will happen if candidates want to win.
wrichcirw
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6/10/2013 1:41:31 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I was unable to watch the video.

Just out of curiosity, and this is mainly to Wnope, what issues would not fit on a normal curve?
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Stephen_Hawkins
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6/10/2013 2:36:35 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/10/2013 1:41:31 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
Just out of curiosity, and this is mainly to Wnope, what issues would not fit on a normal curve?

We should be able to work this out for ourselves. Consider a traditional line. Let's assume it is a normal distribution graph (which I would say is accurate ish for opinions - moreso than uniform distribution). It measures only one variable. So we need to imagine one where it is a parametric instead that can be plotted (or something along those lines: something with multiple variables).

An easy example is crime and punishment: or how much retribution, how much rehabilitation. I may support pure rehab, for example, but reject wholeheartedly CBT (Cognitive behaviour therapy) or the pannopticon ideas (Bentham) that are rehab. In other words, I support a balance of rehabilitation and "the right to do evil". One may support the opposite: extreme retribution only, but complete brainwashing as well. One may support extreme retribution but still the right to do evil (as many neocons support).

The same in a sense can be done with economics: one can completely reject nationalisation but support strongly regulation (most in fact do). A complete extreme support of regulation is different from minor nationalisation of some industries and extreme deregulation of other industries. Putting them on this scale is a bit awkward.

A practical example can be healthcare. So many types of these systems which can vary so much makes it very difficult to plot them on a graph. This is a similar reason why one may reject "right-wing" or "left-wing", as there are ideologies and beliefs which do not make much sense calling them these things. Likewise, it is difficult to plot PRO-healthcare as Democrat and anti-healthcare as Republican. It's just different ways of going about it. And how do you compare the two to say Pol Pot healthcare (modern healthcare is evil) for example?

I hope that makes sense.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

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DanT
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6/10/2013 3:17:29 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
First off, they don't say exactly the same thing. Take minimum wage for example; Democrats believe minimum wage helps the working class, while Republicans believe it hurts the working class. The both say they are for the working class, but their policy to achieve those ends are different.

When elections roll around, politicians select the topics these discuss depending on polls, thereby neglecting to discuss their less popular positions. They don't change their position, they select the topics carefully, thereby neglecting to inform the voters of their less desirable positions. At the same time, they try to bring up topics that their opponent doesn't want to discuss.
"Chemical weapons are no different than any other types of weapons."~Lordknukle
wrichcirw
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6/10/2013 6:27:27 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/10/2013 2:36:35 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 6/10/2013 1:41:31 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
Just out of curiosity, and this is mainly to Wnope, what issues would not fit on a normal curve?

We should be able to work this out for ourselves. Consider a traditional line. Let's assume it is a normal distribution graph (which I would say is accurate ish for opinions - moreso than uniform distribution). It measures only one variable. So we need to imagine one where it is a parametric instead that can be plotted (or something along those lines: something with multiple variables).

An easy example is crime and punishment: or how much retribution, how much rehabilitation. I may support pure rehab, for example, but reject wholeheartedly CBT (Cognitive behaviour therapy) or the pannopticon ideas (Bentham) that are rehab. In other words, I support a balance of rehabilitation and "the right to do evil". One may support the opposite: extreme retribution only, but complete brainwashing as well. One may support extreme retribution but still the right to do evil (as many neocons support).

So, given that the "right to do evil" is irrelevant to rehabilitation or retribution, I can see how this example as you state it would not fit under a normal curve. However, I sincerely doubt that this issue does not fit on a normal curve. I believe (and do not quite care to substantiate) that America would find itself staring at a normal curve if polled on this linear basis, that many more people would favor some retribution, and some rehabilitation. This is just my opinion at this point, although I sincerely doubt there would be strong evidence of the contrary.

The same in a sense can be done with economics: one can completely reject nationalisation but support strongly regulation (most in fact do). A complete extreme support of regulation is different from minor nationalisation of some industries and extreme deregulation of other industries. Putting them on this scale is a bit awkward.

I think the correct dichotomy here is "nationalization vs anarchism". Regulation would represent a normal curve distributive view of this dichotomy, not quite outright government ownership, but certainly nowhere near a total lack of governance.

A practical example can be healthcare. So many types of these systems which can vary so much makes it very difficult to plot them on a graph. This is a similar reason why one may reject "right-wing" or "left-wing", as there are ideologies and beliefs which do not make much sense calling them these things. Likewise, it is difficult to plot PRO-healthcare as Democrat and anti-healthcare as Republican. It's just different ways of going about it. And how do you compare the two to say Pol Pot healthcare (modern healthcare is evil) for example?

Yeah, this one just becomes a gobbledygook mess.

I hope that makes sense.

Yes, it does, although I think we view how the public perceives these issues quite differently. I simply cannot picture an issue, even on something as divisive as abortion, as not fitting into a normal curve distribution.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Stephen_Hawkins
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6/10/2013 6:41:08 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
"more people would favor some retribution, and some rehabilitation"

Let's take that for a moment. Let's say the majority of people promote retribution. So after retribution, have they served their punishment (assuming they are allowed to live; it is not the death penalty)? Does the retribution involve public flogging, or long prison sentences?

Let's take the rehabilitation. Do we use the pannopticon to brainwash, or do we try to educate?

The point is these two sides (public vs private punishment; brainwashing vs education) are all important aspects to how we decide policy. However, on a scale of retribution vs rehabilitation, those who favour the public flogging followed by return to Australia for 15 years working in the mines hard labour are on the equal peg as someone who supports a life in prison for the same crime. On the other hand, the supporter of brainwashing is on the same level as those who support education on the left-right scale.

###

Let's take Nationalization vs Anarchism, then. I am [hypothetical] a middle-left on the scale: a nationalization supporter. I support nationalisation of the commanding heights, and a complete free market of everything else. My friend, who I vociferously disagree on every point on believes in strong regulation on every industry, even the small businesses! We're diametrically opposed! Yet he's exactly on the same spot as I on the scale. This doesn't seem right... the scale has a problem.

###

Finally, let's take healthcare. I think the idea I am getting across is a lot clearer this time, so it should be easily filled in:

1) I support strong regulation of private industry
2) I support partial nationalization of the hospitals and doctors, but hire from a private market all the equipment and cleaning staff etc.
3) I support No modern healthcare whatsoever as it is completely anathema to society.

Points (1) and (2) are both on the same point of the scale yet completely incompatible, whilst (3) fails to be either nationalised or free market healthcare. It very uncomfortably fits on extreme nationalisation I guess, but even then doesn't fit well.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
wrichcirw
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6/10/2013 7:10:54 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
So, I just looked up the word "panopticon", and the recent buzz over the NSA leaks immediately came to mind, a virtual 1984ish panopticon, if you will:

http://www.cnn.com...

On the other hand, the supporter of brainwashing is on the same level as those who support education on the left-right scale.

Personally, I would label these differently...I see brainwashing as an attempt to forcibly remove this linear dichotomy from the equation.

---

Let's take Nationalization vs Anarchism, then. [...] This doesn't seem right... the scale has a problem.

Personally I think the problem lies with the extreme nature of an anarchist position, and that the normal curve distribution would NOT be "skewed" to the nationalization side, but would still very heavily lean towards it, i.e. the green curve in the first chart on wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org...

---

On healthcare, perhaps we're talking about two different things here.

It is possible to fully nationalize health care - this is in fact what the military medical services do for military members.

So, I would say the dichotomy is that on one hand, you have fully nationalized health care, and on the other, fully privatized health care.

Regardless, health care is something I consider to be grossly over-complicated, and I really do not have a desire to research it further.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?