One Camel, Two Humps Will Dean Shift to the Center? Results Demand Re-Evaluation of U.S. Ties

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 18, 2003 | Go to article overview

One Camel, Two Humps Will Dean Shift to the Center? Results Demand Re-Evaluation of U.S. Ties


Byline: Gary J. Andres, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Assuming he continues to excel in the primary campaign, most pundits agree Howard Dean will have to adroitly slide to the middle of the political spectrum after securing the nomination if he has any shot of occupying the White House. Mr. Dean's own comments about attracting "white southerners in pickups" and Al Gore's recent endorsement are early sparks in a campaign that recognizes the need to light a fire under centrist and establishment Democrats.

Yet there is another school of thought, based in part on a book written almost a half-century ago, but still helpful in understanding contemporary American politics, that predicts Mr. Dean may start left and stay left - and even do pretty well in the process. Here's why.

The "move to the center" theory is the product of a major supposition that under-girds much of modern political analysis in this country. Beneath the cozy blanket of conventional wisdom lies the assumption that American voters are arrayed on a left-right ideological spectrum, with the median voter - and the bulk of the electorate - somewhere in the middle. Visually - according to this view - the electorate resembles a Bell Curve, or what statisticians call a "normal distribution." Most of the voters are in the ideological center and the numbers dwindle as you move to the left or right.

With most Republicans right of center on this scale and most Democrats more to the left, this theory explains why presidential primary candidates try to win the support of their base constituencies by taking one set of positions and then moving to the middle, adopting more centrist views, after securing the nomination.

In 1957, political economist Anthony Downs published "An Economic Theory of Democracy," the book that laid the foundation for understanding American politics in this way. Mr. Downs' explanation of why candidates and parties converge to the center became ingrained in the psyche of political pundits and a staple in their menu of predictable offerings.

Yet while America's political ideology may have been shaped like a Bell Curve 20 or 30 years ago, most students of contemporary politics believe the electorate has fundamentally changed over the past decade. And these changes would no doubt lead Mr. Downs to a different prediction about what Mr. Dean - or any other presidential contender - will do if he secures the nomination in today's political environment.

Today's political landscape is shaped more like a two-humped camel than a bell-shaped curve.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

One Camel, Two Humps Will Dean Shift to the Center? Results Demand Re-Evaluation of U.S. Ties
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.