The always readable Andrew Gelman came up with an interesting explanation:
My theory, at least for the general election, is that most of the voters have already decided who they’re going to vote for–and even the ones who haven’t decided are often more predictable than they realize. Suppose, for example, that 40% have pretty much already decided they’ll vote for the Democrat, 40% will vote for the Republican, and the fight is over the remaining 20%–most of whom do not follow politics closely in any case. Now think of the audience for political news. 80% of the people don’t need to know the candidates’ positions–they’ve already decided their votes–but they’re intensely interested in the horse race: are “we” going to win or lose? The substantive coverage that Krugman and I might want is really just for 20% of the audience. So, from that perspective, it makes sense for the media to give people the horse race. (Yes, survey respondents say they want more of candidates position issues and less on which candidate is leading in the polls–but I don’t know that I believe people when they say this.) (My italics, JC)
Of cause the number of candidates is larger in Denmark with an eight-party system than in the US two-party system and the mix of parties in the winning coalition plays a role for the resulting policies, but despite all of my complaints about the media covering parliamentary elections as presidential elections Danish voters are always left with the choice – should “the left” or “the right” set the agenda?