The Right Coast

May 23, 2005
The Filibuster Deal: How it Happened
By Mike Rappaport

For the moment, I will postpone commenting on whether this deal is a bad one for the Republicans to focus on the separate issue as to how it could have happened. Why do these centrist Senators have all of this power?

The short answer is that they usually don't. The median voter theorem says that in legislatures, the centrist voters should have the power. But under the party system, there are strong forces causing the median voters to stick with their party. This occurs especially on issues where party cohesion is deemed important, which includes the appointment of appellate judges. As a result, something like the median voter of each party controls the party, and median voter of the majority party then controls the legislature.

But this system can always unravel, if the median voters decide to bolt, which is what they did in this case. The centrist voters of both parties joined, and pursued their own preferences.