Power

Meet the Brazilian voter

The center has been squeezed out of Brazilian politics, and successful candidates appeal to their opponent’s critics rather than the middle ground. In this context, certain segments of the Brazilian electorate hold the key to this year’s election results

Voter registration office in Curitiba, Paraná. Photo: Eduardo Matysiak/Futura Press/Folhapress
Voter registration office in Curitiba, Paraná. Photo: Eduardo Matysiak/Futura Press/Folhapress

In a bid to understand what defines the winner of an election, in 1957 economist Anthony Downs turned to the “median voter theorem.” In general terms, it purports that the candidate who attracts voters who lean neither to the right nor left is the most likely to win — because the left/right camps already have a captive pool of sympathizers. That is to say, the successful candidate must convince voters who have yet to form a preference. 

While finding fertile ground in Brazil for many years, the theory applies less and less to the country. From the return to democracy...

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