With all of the hyper-partisanship of the primaries weighing us down, we decided to daydream a little today and look at where the ideal 2012 presidential candidate would stand on economic and social issues. To figure that out, we relied on recent Gallup survey data (July 2011 to the present) and our understanding of the median voter theorem.
In short, the median voter theorem—probably best explained in the political sense in Anthony Downs’ An Economic Theory of Democracy
–states that in a two party system like the United States, the competition is for the voter whose opinions are at the median. The candidate who gets the closest to that point without alienating his or her base will win the election.
Below, we took several pertinent economic and social issues that Gallup has polled on since July 2011 (the issue text links to the Gallup survey) to create our ideal median voter candidate. We used a 51% rule to construct our ideal; that is, the ideal median voter candidate will support (or oppose) an issue when at least 51% of those surveyed also support (or oppose) that issue.
So what does the median voter look like? Let’s take a look:
The Median Voter Candidate
|Abortion||Favors laws requiring information about abortion risks, parental consent for women under 18, a 24 hour waiting period, a ban on partial birth abortions and strongly opposes a law prohibiting abortion clinics from receiving federal funds.|
|Death Penalty||Favors increased usage of the death penalty for murder.|
|Cutting the Federal Deficit||Favors cutting the deficit mostly with spending cuts but is open to some tax increases (see below).|
|Taxes||Favors increasing taxes on corporations and on individuals with incomes above $200,000 and families with incomes above $200,000.|
In an upcoming article we’ll look at how our current crop of candidates compare with this theoretical Median Voter Candidate. But until then: what do you think? Join the discussion below or let us know via Facebook or Twitter.