What Is the Median Voter Theorem?

The median voter theorem, first proposed by Anthony Downs in 1957, holds that in a majority-rule voting system, the population chooses the outcome preferred by the median voter. This means that politicians who stray too far from the political center are likely to be voted out of office.

The median voter theorem has been supported by several significant economic studies. Some economists believe it explains why government programs calling for the redistribution of wealth have been popular for many decades. The median voter theorem applies only to one issue at a time, however, and is inapplicable if voters are voting on several referendums simultaneously.