Last night’s Republican debate was two hours of 10 candidates doing their best to distinguish themselves from the many people hoping to win the 2016 presidential election. While there were some generally agreed-upon winners (Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz) and losers (Jeb Bush, and for some the CNBC moderators), the debate itself was underwhelming. Was it just us, or did all the candidates sound…the same?
The problem of politicians sounding the same isn’t just limited to primary elections. Even once candidates receive their party’s nominations, we’re likely to hear a lot of the same talking points from both Republicans and Democrats. But why do all politicians end up sounding the same?
In the video below, Professor Diana Thomas explains why politicians from both parties use the same talking points. The phenomenon can be explained by the median voter theorem, which states that in two-party, majority-rule democracies, each candidate has to appeal to the voter in the middle—the median voter—in order to win the majority. Instead of catering to their right or left-leaning base of supporters, like we see in the current debates, candidates in general elections have to appeal to the average American.
“In fact, if you want to win,” Thomas explains, “you will have to aim for the position of the median voter—the guy right in the middle of the spectrum—because he’s the last voter you have to convince to get the majority you need.”