Swing Vote

Media Type: Film Clips Topic: Marginal Thinking, Government & the Economy

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The median voter model, which posits that the person whose preferences fall in the middle of a policy continuum will be the decisive voter, is a mainstay of public choice research.  An important implication of the median voter model is that candidates will move to the middle of the policy space to try to win elections. A good film for introducing the median voter model is 2008’s “Swing Vote.”

Kevin Costner plays a good ole boy, Bud, who is accidentally thrust into the role of being the median voter in a U.S. presidential election. After election night neither candidate has a majority of the Electoral College votes, and the remaining state, New Mexico, is tied pending Bud’s recasting his miscast vote. Over the next few days, as Bud is trying to decide which candidate to support, he seems to reveal preferences on policy issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. We then see candidates adapting their positions to his utterances (e.g. the Democratic candidate, played by Dennis Hopper, comes out against abortion rights and the Republican candidate, played by Kelsey Grammer, endorses same-sex marriage. This clip is an advertisement from the Republican candidate directed at Bud and his seeming pro-same-sex marriage position.  


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