Socio-economic Inequality and the Rational Candidate

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Kathryn Wesley


Socio-economic inequalities began increasing in many Western-liberal democratic countries, including Canada and the United States, approximately three decades ago. The middle class has become polarized leading to an income gap and shift of the median voter. Accordingly, the question of when it will become “rational” for a candidate to campaign on the issue of economic inequality is analysed in this paper. Through the use of rational choice theory, it becomes apparent that when the median voter shifts to a lower socio-economic stratum, candidates will find it rational to campaign on the issue of socio-economic inequality. An analysis of the 2012 US Presidential election campaign and the November 2013 by-election of Toronto-Centre provide empirical support for when socio-economic inequality becomes a rational choice for candidates and parties to campaign on.

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Author Biography

Kathryn Wesley, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Kathryn Wesley is in her second year of a Master of Arts degree in Political Science. She is planning on finishing in the spring of 2015. She has a BA with a double major in Political Science and International Studies.