The Paradoxical Optimal Voting Strategy for the Presidential Election of 2016

Most people agree that when you vote in an election, to maximize your utility, the best voting strategy is to vote for your better preferred candidate of the two most popular candidates assuming ┬ásimple plurality is used. This was not the case in 2016’s US presidential election. Both major candidates were deemed so incapable that they could be defeated by any typical candidate in the opposing party. As a result, expecting that the winner will run for reelection and lose in 2020, the best strategy becomes voting for the party you like the least, as the current short loss would trade for a longer victory in the future. This assumes that Trump and Hillary each represent their party well and attract voters who usually vote for their party. We also assume a zero discount rate: a miserable 4 years that starts in 4 years weighs equally as a miserable 4 years that starts immediately.

Created by Christopher Wang. First published on November 8, 2016 on
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