Median Voters and the Budget Deal

by John Sides on April 8, 2011 · 1 comment

in Legislative Politics

Amidst all of this discussion of the (now apparently averted) shutdown, here’s something I haven’t seen discussed enough.

If the Politico story linked above is correct, there will be an additional $40 billion cut from domestic discretionary spending. My question is this: what is the preference of the median member of the House and the hypothetical 60th vote (the filibuster pivot) in the Senate? Although we don’t yet have enough data on the 112th Congress to locate members in “ideological space,” these members are obviously Republicans and probably, on balance more moderate than conservative (in a relative sense).

I’ll make this hypothesis: this deal is pretty close to the preferences of these members. If so, it raises an interesting possibility if we want to forecast the outcome these sorts of bargaining processes: we can ignore the day-to-day back-and-forth and more or less assume that the median House member and/or filibuster pivot will carry the day. Of course, identifying those people is tricky, and there is always the question of the President’s preference. So such forecasts are not straightforward. But I still think this sort of spatial logic got short shrift in discussions of the shutdown.

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