Electoral Competition under Best-Worst Voting Rules

Dodge Cahan, Arkadii Slinko

We characterise multi-candidate pure-strategy equilibria in the Hotelling-Downs spatial election model for the class of best-worst voting rules, in which each voter is endowed with both a positive and a negative vote, i.e., each voter can vote in favour of one candidate and against another one. The weights attached to positive and negative votes in calculating a candidate's net score may be different, so that a negative vote and a positive vote need not cancel out exactly. These rules combine the first-place seeking incentives of plurality with the incentives to avoid being ranked last of anti-plurality. We show that these rules generally admit equilibria, which are nonconvergent if and only if the importance of a positive vote exceeds that of a negative vote. The set of equilibria in the latter case is very similar to that of plurality, except that the platforms are less extreme due to the moderating effect of negative votes. Moreover, any degree of dispersion between plurality, at one extreme, and full convergence, at the other, can be attained for the correct choice of the weights.

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