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Chapter 5 Winning and Holding Elective Office

I. Voters, Candidates, and Election Outcomes i. A pure election seeker finds a platform by asking, Which platform maximizes my chances of winning? A more typical candidate, one who wants to be elected but who also holds some policy goals, is likely to choose a different platform. A. A special Model of Elections B. Predictions about Candidates platforms and election outcomes a. Median voter theorem i. If voters policy preferencesand candidates platforms can be expressed as points on a line and ii. If candidates are able to choose whatever platform they want to, and iii. If the voters choose the candidate whose plateform is closest to their ideal point, and flip a coin if platforms are equally distant, and iv. If candidates only only care about winning the election v. Then both candidates platforms will be identical to the median voters ideal point C. Will Candidates Always Move to the Median? a. Limits on Credible Platforms i. One obvious limitation on the candidates selection of a platform is the electorates willingness to take the choice seriously. b. Primary Elections i. The fact that primary elections are used to select general election candidates has a profound impact on platform choices. ii. Democrats tend to be more liberal as Republicans tend to be more conservative. c. Personal Policy Goals i. A final reason why a candidate might ignore the move to the median advice has to do with his personal policy goals. d. Policy and Reelection i. The median-voter theorem is often read as saying that politicians face a stark tradeoff: They can pursuit policy or win the office. 1. ie. Ron Paul ii. Some members of Congress can write their dream policy platform and get elected on it for the simple


reason that their preferences are close to those held by their median constituent. How Constituents Make Trust Decisions i. Trust makes sense when constituents believe that their representative knows things about proposals that they do not and that their representative knows things about proposals that they do not and that their representatives interests are compatible with their own. a. Retrospective Evaluations: i. When politicians care about getting reelected, retrospective evaluations can have a profound impact on their behavior. ii. If politicians desire to be reelected is strong enough, he will take actions that are consistent with what the constituents want, which will guarantee that constituents make positive evaluations and cement their support in the next elections. b. The Problem: Policy Uncertainty i. Problem with retrospective evaluations is that they give representatives the right incentives to act in accordance with their constituents interests only if the constituents are well informed about the details of legislation ii. The average constituent knows very little about things that the Congress members vote, thus operate under a condition of policy uncertainty. c. Why Trust? i. Compared to the average constituent, the average representative has better information about legislative proposals d. The Problem with Trust: Control. i. Representatives like to trust a lot. It enables them to do what they thing is right rather than doing what their constituents want. ii. Constituents want a representative they can trust, they have to worry about whether they should trust the one they have.