Tom Ferguson and the Myth of the Median Voter

Paul Henry Rosenberg rad at
Thu Sep 24 16:29:47 PDT 1998

William S. Lear wrote:

> >Clinton's abandonment of AFDC for TANF was not dictated by the
> >Hollywood-Wall Street-High Tech crowd who provide much of the Democratic
> >Party's non-union funding, but was--in Moynihan's phrase--pure boob bait...
> Well, sure, and none of this is inconsistent with Ferguson's approach
> (so the "But there are a lot of issues..." part is unnecessary).
> Ferguson makes it clear that it is investor sovereignty that is
> important, and obviously the sovereign chooses what to focus upon.
> I was simply objecting to the use of "voters" turning right and then
> dragging along the hapless Democrats --- a common misconception that I
> try to point out when I see it.

I think it's obvious that Ferguson is right about the big picture, but that doesn't negate a simultaneous effect from voters. It's like two modes of energy transmission in a physical system. One may be an order of magnitude (at least) more powerful than the other, but both are there. What's more, the less powerful one may act as a trigger.

I think one could argue that this happened in 1994. The huge investment shift that drove the election occured in anticipation of a relative small, BUT SIGNIFICANT, voter shift, and after the dust cleared that's exactly what happened. Of course, the investment forces had been moving the whole field rightward for decades leading up to that jump point.

-- Paul Rosenberg Reason and Democracy rad at

"Let's put the information BACK into the information age!"

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