Losing to Win

That is the title of a paper from Kai Steverson, who is on the job market from Princeton this year:

Abstract: We study an infinite horizon model of political competition where parties face a trade-off between winning today and winning tomorrow. Parties choose between nominating moderates, who are more viable, or partisans, who can energize the base and draw in new voters which helps win future elections. Only moderates can win in equilibrium and so the winning party fails to invest in its base and has a weaker future. Hence the longer a party is in power the more likely they are to lose, a pattern that finds strong support in the data. This dynamic also creates an electoral cycle where parties regularly take turns in power.

The paper is here (pdf), Kai’s job market paper on Tiebout competition and minorities is here (pdf), it covers how mobility can lead to a race to the bottom when it comes to protecting the rights of minority workers.


My takeaway from this excerpt: many are the political affiliation they are due to when they come of age politically, which is cyclical, rather than for any rational reason.

I've often thought that.

The post war baby boom was quite the phenomenon in that view.

My takeaway is the Republicans and Tea-baggers must be building for the future, since they are so extreme and out of touch with what mainstream America wants (no I'm not a registered Democrat though I did vote for Obama)

When you use a term that refers to a sexual act instead of the actual name of the organization, are you being intentionally disgusting, or are you just stupid?

I'd like to know: who are these political moderates, and what are their guiding principles?

Moderate is probably the wrong word to describe "moderates". I suspect the group the word is aiming for is simply those whose ideology doesn't fall within the the ideology of the blues or reds. I consider myself a "moderate", not because I don't have some extreme views (someone somewhere pointed out that independents probably have more extreme views than reds or blues), but because I mostly agree with the right on gun rights and small government (in the sense that that means fewer laws, regulations, the end of the surveillance state and a more dovish foreign policy), and on the left on most social issues (although not their extreme politically correct viewpoints which silences taboo subjects or the sort of feminism that borders on socialism) and on more progressive tax rates.

My guiding principles are the greatest happiness for the greatest number of Americans. My resulting policy beliefs are: a much more progressive tax code, an expanded social safety net, fewer laws and regulations, more limited immigration than we have now, gun rights, pro-choice, anti-capital punishment, more school choice, anti-teachers union, a more dovish foreign policy which would end all our involvement in the Middle East and end the War on Terror but which draws harder lines between Russia and Europe (because Russia is a rogue state which spreads harm wherever it goes and, unlike Terror, can be contained because it is a nation not a noun), a universally accessible, single-payer healthcare system which allows for more consumer choice and creates more competition in medical tech so price competition in medical tech finally becomes a real thing and brings healthcare prices down, an end to the War on Drugs and, in general, a commitment to the free market, because it works.

I identify as a moderate.

Then again, expressing my moderate political views on the webz has resulted in Homeland Security knocking on my door out of concern I was a potential terrorist. No joke. So maybe the views I expressed above make me a crazy radical.

Tough crowd. No respect, I tell you.

And how are you going to maximize two variables?

Why did you just do what you are advising not to do?

more nonsense from academia. Markets in intellectual masturbation.

Look, the government is a farce. The nation is a farce. It always really was.

This is a pseudo-democracy. The majority bloc has very little trust in this federal government, and many of them really want it to go away. If social security and medicare were funded and handled by the individual states, the federal govt would have been defunded by the people long ago. The majority's thirst for partisans is simply an expression of the unstated and unacknowledged majority desire for the termination of the federal union. Moderation is betrayal of the people by self-serving politicians.

Markets in intellectual masturbation.

The majority do not want Federal taxes or Federal regulation, but they want someone to make sure:

they can get money out of the ATM even is every banker is a crook and every mortgage defaults

that they can send their kid to a great college without going bankrupt or telling their kid that they must settle for either a minimum wage job and no future or become a meth maker

that they do not die of cancer or heart disease resulting from polluted water or air

that corporations get whatever they want to create jobs for themselves but not by taking their land by eminent domain or polluting their well water with chemical waste

that they can drive down great roads and highways without fearing the bridges will fall and without driving 20 miles out of the way because a bridge is rotten or drive to work without being stuck in traffic but no way do they support higher gas taxes, monitoring driving to bill for miles driven, turning bridges over to for profit who charge tolls.

Basically since Reagan attacked Jimmy Carter for denying Americans being Excepted from sacrifice and hard work, the majority want free stuff because Reagan promised tax cuts and less government and reliance on the free market would give everyone stuff for free that before you have to sacrifice for by paying taxes and saving 20% down on a house and paying cash for a used car.

Very strange. This is new? I recall just this argument being discussed at length in a political science class several decades ago. Perhaps the only difference is that this is based on formal modeling. In which case it's the usual relabeling of old ideas in new and academically fashionable bottles.

@Wiki--Several decades ago you discussed how parties will adopt unfashionable positions so they can attract new voters in the future? Really? The only thing I recall from long ago was the idea that 'fringe' parties often anticipate issues that become 'mainstream' (and adopted by mainstream parties) years later, such as abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, temperance movement and so forth. E.g., the Republican adoption of closed borders has roots in the Know Nothing party of the 19th century, though it's a bit of a stretch.

It goes without saying that this phenomenon is only seen where a two-party system exists. In many parliamentary governments, a party that falls out of fashion disappears forever, something that hasn't happened in the US in some time, where both parties collude to keep the spoils to themselves. The party in power requires a force to oppose but only one. The opposition doesn't want competition in its quest to unseat the incumbents. It's all just theatre, a system designed and implemented to reward sociopaths.

Typical free lunch postering.

If no party is suitable to you and you believe you are in the vast majority who believe in a superior political ideology, then you should have no problem building a local party of like believers who win the local elections and then go on to win State offices where your superior political policies will win you power within the State which you can use to spread your superior political operations to other States to gain increasing control of Congress.

But that requires that you sacrifice other parts of your life to commit to political change, so you instead demand others do it for you and do it to your satisfaction, and if they don't you will deem them corrupt.

The differences between Democrats and Republicans are rather stark on principles, but to govern, only by compromise can anything get done because contrary to your belief, the differences among Americans in the role of government are deeply divided, most seeking free lunch government paid for by someone else.

And on the latter point, I suggest looking into the Tea Party analysis of the options for replacing the bridge between Kentucky and Cincinnati, including their opposition to McConnell who would have brought home a huge earmark if not for trying to defeat Obama, or the Tea Party on the PUC granting rate hikes for the construction of two nuclear reactors green lite by the Obama administration under the Bush-Republican Energy policy law.

Democrats not only talk about taxes, they vote to hike taxes, something Republicans point out all the time, and then effectively promise to deliver the same benefits by cutting taxes. Ie, eliminating taxes and regulation will give you better and more comprehensive and more choice in health care because in the free market everything is free: "no one died before Obamacare because they lacked health insurance or money" - ie, health care was free before Obamacare.

New paper for him:

How does the equilibrium (like gridlock) of a majority and minority party in the legislature change when an exectutive that not only can unilaterally submit legislation, but can credibly signal that they will write and pass their own policy without the legislature's advice and consent (to bypass the gridlock) is introduced?

What kind of policy does the majority party then propose and how do they behave in such an equilibrium? What about the minority party? How do the previous two questions depend on whether the executive and the majority are from the same party? What are the implications for elections?

Obviously inspired by immigration, but honestly curious (I am not a (good) theorist). Would love to read a paper that takes the question seriously.

This is what people on both political extremes like to believe, but being able to model it does not make it true.

The big swings to the left or right have come after the party in power has discredited itself and alienated voters, not after the opposition party has disdained the center for long enough to energize the far-left or far-right.

Did Reagan win in 1980 because the Republicans had disdained the center in 76 and 78? No, the Rs aimed for the center in 76 and 78. The 80 landslide came as the center moved right, not because the far-right finally turned up to vote. By 92, voters were tiring of Rs, and the Ds were reinventing themselves as centrists. Bush sort of won in 2000 by running centrist against an uninspiring, same-old D. The center moved back to the left again in 2006 and 2008 mainly out of revulsion with Bush's mishandling of Iraq. Buyer's remorse came fast and the center shifted again.

There's just nothing about the last few decades that at all supports this theory.

" the longer a party is in power the more likely they are to lose"

A bit like saying, "the longer one lives, the more likely he is to die".

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