Policy Prefs: I’m Right at the Peak of the Common Man’s Bell Curve. Where Are You?
The idea of democracy is to give the people what they want, right?
Ezra Klein points us to a great study by Ray LaRaja and Brian Schnaffer examining policy preferences by political donors (5% of the population) vs. non-donors (95%).
Here’s my rendition of the results:
Whose preferences would you say are embodied in our current government?
Non-donors as a group are pretty coherent, and seem to give a good representation of what Americans want.
Donors, perceived as an entity, not so much — the group is downright schizophrenic, in particular due to that anomalous bulge at the right. And that 5% or .5% determines what we get — not the 95%. (Money? Pernicious? Feh.)
Now: ask yourself where the self-professed liberals and conservatives that you know land on the left-hand graph.
Cross-posted at Asymptosis.
Is not this exactly what one would expect? Only those who feel passionately about their views are likely to donate money in hopes that their favored policy solutions will carry the day. I doubt many middle of the roaders give money to promote their middle of the road solutions. Indeed that there is any middle ground in the right hand graph is surprising, but it may be simply special interest money–like my dad a staunch Republican giving money to a Democratic governor because he vetoed a Chiropracter bill which my father a medical doctor did not like.
Boy, I do not know if it is compassion as much as how is my $1,2,3,5, 10, 20, etc. gonna count? I do not see any patronage jobs or influence coming my way for $5. It would be kool to see how this matches up with income of donators.
10% of the 5% are very liberal or fanatics.
Would the money flows from PACs make any difference if say 85% of the 95% actually showed up at election time and voted their own preferences? Granted that the huge influx of cash into political races is intended to sway the minds and the votes of the masses. Given that the masses haven’t recently been to their polling places, other than the Presidential vote, how much influence would that political cash have if those mass of voters actually bothered to express themselves and their ideological inclinations at election time, especially local and congressional races.
So there is hope that some day the mass of the people will begin to exercise their political franchise and express their social and economic interests as they relate to political selectivity. The only problem is getting those masses to do even that little bit of exercise. It’s so much easier to belly ache about the damn fools in our government and forget that they’re there due to a lack of political action at the individual level.
I recall another poll where 40 percent self identify as conservative, 40 percent as moderate, and only 20 percent as liberal.
People don’t really understand their own policy preferences much less vote for or contribute to them.
True enough. It’s perfectly understandable given that half of any very large group of people is below average intelligence. And I can tell you from my early professional life, during which I spent much time administering intelligence tests, that even those at the average mark aren’t all that quick witted. It is damned easy to score average intelligence. As a result even those we see as average have a hard time analyzing the simplest abstract issues. “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” A statement from one of our average Americans not too long ago.
The conservative movement have done a wonderful job of making “liberal” a pejorative.
This just adds more to the mounting data that this nation is really in trouble if we don’t want to do more than just remember fondly the “good old days”. Adds to the research of Gilens and Page studied that looked at policy results vs wealth.
As to giving, or that is not giving it is a feature of our income shift I would think. Again another successful campaign by the conservatives as they work to reduce the numbers voting thus controlling the outcome of a “democratic” vote.
Having just read the link to the study I find this interesting:
Parties, more than other committees, concentrate their money on moderates rather than the ideologues. Note that issue groups give a larger share of contributions to candidates at the liberal and conservative extremes. Unsurprisingly, business organizations tend to promote moderates with a decided tilt toward conservatives, but not the most extreme conservatives.
And then they conclude with: Giving party organizations more money should, over several election cycles, better insulate legislators from the wrath of extremist factions.
They are saying we need more moderates. If you look at the chart showing leanings vs limits or no limits on giving where there are no limits, both parties have legislators more toward that infamous middle.
So, is this a sly of hand assessment of their data to promote more of the “center right” middle. Get rid of limits and the nation then becomes more of a middle even though it’s not? The middle being pro money/business?
Is this what we really need? Is this what we really want?
Watch for the next Supremes’ ruling on the subject to site this research.
The article talks about parties, but I’m talking mainly about donors vs. non.
Note first that the graphs for large and small donors are about the same.
If there were simply less money being donated, politicians would be more swayed by the vote powers of non-donors. And non-donors are decidedly center-left.
Righties like to suggest that more money in politics is good. I’m saying that if “the will of the people” is what matters (left graph), less money is good.
I agree Steve. I’m for public funding. But, I just wanted others to know what these two researchers were suggesting with their research and it was not that we should go with the center left. Nope, they are using their new findings to push the idolized middle meme.