Political parties in the U.S. have become increasingly polarized in an attempt to get more votes — not because voters themselves are becoming more extremist.
The research team led by Northwestern University found that extremism is a strategy that has worked over the years even if voters’ views remain in the center. Voters are not looking for a perfect representative but a “satisficing,” meaning “good enough,” candidate.
“Our assumption is not that people aren’t trying to make the perfect choice, but in the presence of uncertainty, misinformation or a lack of information, voters move toward satisficing,” said Northwestern’s Dr. Daniel Abrams, a senior author of the study.
The study is published in SIAM Review.
Abrams is an associate professor of engineering sciences and applied mathematics in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering. Co-authors include Drs. Adilson Motter, the Morrison Professor of Physics and Astronomy in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts