Median Voter Theorem Essay

1108 words - 4 pages

Median Voter Theorem

On the spectrum of politics (or any other ideologically-based matter), personal opinions will inevitably vary from one extreme on the left to the opposite on the right. In a governing system such as that of the United States, where the population directly elects representatives to govern, the position a candidate holds on the spectrum pertaining to certain issues in relation to other candidates becomes increasingly important. Theoretically, two people coming from different backgrounds and different political parties should provide contrasting opinions on major issues, allowing an individual voter to clearly and easily see the difference between his options and choose which option would be best for himself and his country. According to the Median Value Theorem, however, in most cases, the candidate's personal views and priorities cannot be considered if a victorious election is the ultimate goal, leading to nearly identical candidates at the time of election. Although this theory contains flaws, both theoretically in the actual workings and ideologically in the results, it is still valid and important to today's political strategies.
The median voter is the voter closest to the center on an issue. If determined properly, half of the population holds a position to the left of this determined median voter and half to the right. According to the Median Voter Theorem, the median voter in a majority-rule election will be decisive so long as voters have single-peaked preferences. The theorem implicates that candidates who are successful in winning elections are those who are able to capture the vote of the median voter. If two candidates campaign against each other, they are each forced to take the political position of the median voter of the spectrum or risk losing the election, regardless of their personal beliefs. If one candidate were to establish an idea even one percentage to one side or the other of the median voter, his opponent would theoretically capture more than half of the popular vote, leading to a victory.
However, this theorem, like most theories, contains flaws making the concept imperfect. One such flaw is the consideration that not all elections are decided by the popular vote, the basis for the Median Voter Theorem. In the United States, for example, the president is elected not by popular vote, but by the Electoral College, leaving the candidate to think not only of the median voter in the population, but how that may relate to the actual election and the median voter of the Electoral College. By adding this extra party to the election process, the Median Voter Theorem, although still relevant, is not necessarily as vital in such situations. Furthermore, if more than two candidates run against each other, the entire system is thrown off, leaving a totally different game strategically. With three or more candidates, each individual must strive to differentiate himself in the eyes of the voters, forcing...

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