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Monday, February 27, 2006

Economics of getting elected for Mitt Romney

A debate has been going on for a couple of days over at one of the nation's most popular conservative blogs about Mitt Romney's chances of becoming the next President. For those who don't know, Mitt Romney is the Governor of Massachussetts (R), and it is widely believed that he will run for the Republican nomination for President in 2008. He is also Mormon, which has sparked a debate in the media over whether or not he can get elected. Bloggers at RedState have decided in the past couple of days to debate whether he can get elected, or if his Mormonism would turn off voters. This particular blogger, I believe, hits the nail on the head in his diary, which seems pretty consistent with Public Choice Theory.

Public Choice Theory states that in elections, the median voter decides the outcome of elections in single issues or candidates (where one issue is voted on at a time). Other factors play into this because of log-rolling and the fact that candidates vote on many more than one issue. In virtually any U.S. election, elected candidates do vote on multiple issues, in fact, quite a few. This means that in an election of two candidates, the one whose multiple issue stances come closest to the median voter's stances gets elected. In the U.S., this happens twice - once in the primaries and once in the general election.

For Romney, this means that he has to identify with the median voter in both the Republican primary, and then the general election, which is what RedState has been discussing. This diarist understands that as long as Romney tries to identify with voters through issues, he stands a decent chance of being elected in both elections. However, if he tries to identify with them through his religion, he will fail to do so because most American's aren't Mormon. Even Christians who try to identify with other Christians face a tough time. In the 2000 election, while Bush certainly mentioned that he was a Christian, he focused on how his Faith changed his life much more than the mere fact that he was a Christian. Meanwhile, other Christians with similar conservative viewpoints, ones perhaps closer to the median conservative voter, garnered very few votes as they touted mostly the fact that they were Christian, such as Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes, though Keyes was a bit more conservative than the median. Bush's Faith advertisement identified with more people, including Christians themselves. A similar move by Romney could do him well, as many people can identify with Faith as well as the issues for which he stands.

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