Tom Ferguson and the Myth of the Median Voter

William S. Lear rael at
Mon Sep 28 08:01:16 PDT 1998

[Had to resend this to LBO, as I mistakenly sent it only to Doug!@##!] On Sun, September 27, 1998 at 13:35:14 (-0400) Doug Henwood writes:
>William S. Lear wrote:
>>I'm not sure what you mean by "neat and unidirectional". He does not,
>>as far as I know, claim that opinion polls reflect shifts in
>>investment, so your claim that in 1994 the shift in investment
>>followed the shift in the polls is not a valid criticism of his work.
>>He argues that party behavior is, in large part, determined by
>>investor behavior, but he does not, again to my recollection, anywhere
>>claim that poll shifts are not possible without investment shifts, nor
>>that they are insignificant.
>My understanding of his theory is that "investors" lead. But the 1994 money
>shift was prompted by the polls, showing that investors can also follow.

Tom had this to say when I asked him about a money shift being prompted by polls:

As for the polls, there is certainly nothing the matter in theory with

money following polls. But 1994 doesn't appear to be such a case. I

arrived originally at my "Mt. Vesuvius" analogy by comparing the FEC

reports for soft money and other funding for the first half of 1994

with those for the rest of the year. (The first version of my piece on

1994 in the Nation that appeared right after the election relied on

the data as published through October; the version in Golden Rule

brought the data up through the complete election cycle.) That data

makes it quite clear that the turn in money occurred by mid summer;

the polls didn't start to move til the end in an amount that could

possibly have justified such a shift. Indeed, many analysts didn't

pick up the swing at all; that was why Gingrich's triumph surprised so


>>About his "endorsement" of Perot: this is news to me. Do you have a
>>cite for where he did so?
>He did it at a forum sponsored by the Village Voice. I was pretty stunned.

As to this, Tom replied:

I cannot imagine what is meant by my endorsing Ross Perot in 1992 -- I

never did any such thing. There is nothing in anything I wrote or

spoke to justify such a silly claim; plus I'm not in the business of

making presidential endorsements!


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