The Median Donor Model: How Big Money Corrupts the Median Voter Model

926 WordsFeb 26, 20184 Pages
THE “MEDIAN DONOR” MODEL: HOW BIG MONEY CORRUPTS THE “MEDIAN VOTER” MODEL In this two-page paper, I challenge the “median voter model” advanced by Anthony Downs’s An Economic Theory of Democracy. In his work, Downs argues that, in a plurality election, two political parties converge in policy such that their behavior will best satisfy society’s “median voter.” Here, I consider experimentally demonstrable factors that Downs’s model disregards. These factors support a completely different theory: that political parties are better off setting their policies to satisfy big-money donors than setting them to truly satisfy the median voter. I. Introduction In his widely read 1957 book, An Economic Theory of Democracy, Anthony Downs proposes a “median voter model” of political party behavior. Namely, he writes that, in a two-party majoritarian polity, any two parties will converge and set their policies such that they’ll appeal to the median voter. The argument goes something like this: 1) each voter will vote for the party whose policies give him more utility; 2) the winning party will be the one that captures the majority of the voters; so, 3) hoping to capture the majority of the voters, the two parties will converge in policy in an attempt to please the voter at the dead center of the ideological spectrum. Downs’s is an internally consistent model, but it’s one that suffers a fatal flaw: namely, it assumes that all voters have perfect information, both complete and

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