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September 09, 2003

Political Multidimensionality

It has been a while since I've heard a good new idea. Here are some principles, fuzzily stated that are at the core of good thinking.

Imagine the standard Nolan Chart, but pretend at first that only economic liberties are at issue, that only that left-right spectrum counts. You can use the standard Downsian analysis to predict (under first-past-the-post, winner-take=all) a pair of dominant coalitions (parties) situated just far enough from the median to deter third party entrants. Call those points at which the parties form the consensus points. Now, drop that second axis, personal liberties, into play. Depending on the distribution of voter preferences in this new 2-D opinion-space, the consensus points shift, not only up and down, but also along the original left-right axis. You can drop a third line representing some other issue (foreign policy, abortion, etc.) and repeat the shift in 3-D space, and in principle on into N-dimensional space for N issues. (Each of "economic" and "personal" freedom are conflations of positions on a range of sub-dimensions, which could be represented as separate dimensions as they grew salient.)

My point exactly.

Posted by mbowen at September 9, 2003 11:16 AM

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