Single Issue Voters

This is an interesting approach to analyzing issues for rational politicians:
Here's how single-issue voting works: Normally, a question is presented to the electorate and if 51% favor it, it should pass (assuming rational legislators - a dubious assumption in these dark days). If 51% oppose it, it should not pass. This ideal model, however, doesn't take intensity of preferences into account. For example, let's say 20% of voters really really want an environmental regulation eliminated. The other 80% would prefer to keep it, if you asked them, but they don't really care that much. Other issues are more important. If you're a legislator, you know that by opposing the elimination the regulation, you'll lose 20% of the electorate immediately and gain nothing. If you favor eliminating it, you gain 20% of the electorate, and lose nothing. Not a tough choice, is it? It's not a tough choice even though 80% of the population supports the regulation.

He goes on to say that this is how prohibition got passed, and why he fears that an anti-abortion law could be passed (if Roe is not upheld) even though a majority of Americans are in favor of abortion.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say that this is more a case of 20% for, 80% indifferent, rather than 20% for and 80% opposed.

Now, that 80% may have a change of heart once something becomes law (as for example, prohibition), but still, the responsibility for their previous indifference lies with them.

"When will people learn? Democracy just doesn't work!"

7/08/2005 1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was me, by the way.


7/08/2005 1:04 AM  
Blogger Mr. Turtle said...

I think his point is that the 80% are opposed, however there are other issues that could take precedence, whereas for the 20% that single issue will decide their vote. So 20% of people will for an anti-abortion candidate no matter what he says about other issues, whereas the other 80% will not vote for a candidate merely because they are pro-abortion.

7/11/2005 4:41 PM  

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