The Republican Candidates Dilemma

Just like Facebook users who start falling victim to the friendship paradox due to the misrepresenting data their friend lists and news feeds provides them with, I have recently been tricked to think that game theory dominates the world around me. Every news article I read, from a business competition to a guide to ‘educate your misbehaving child’ seems to be spin-off’s off the prisoner’s dilemma. I probably just have a heightened sensitivity for applications of Nash equilibrium and I am most likely just noticing this stuff more than I had in the past due our discussions; but I still think Game Theory dominates a lot of societal movements. And as this article hypothesises: Politics.


Republican Presidential Candidates Debate In Miami Area

CORAL GABLES, FL – MARCH 10: Republican presidential candidates Sen. Tec Cruz (R-TX) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are seen during a broadcast break in the CNN, Salem Media Group, The Washington Times Republican Presidential Primary Debate on the campus of the University of Miami on March 10, 2016 in Coral Gables, Florida. The candidates continue to campaign before the March 15th Florida primary. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

For the entire campaign cycle Republican candidates have been battling one another for the GOP nomination. And in these days that Trump is seamlessly marching to bring it home, interesting news comes from the Kasich and Cruz campaigns. In a final effort to derail Trump’s nomination and force the party to select it’s candidate through an open-convention the two remaining Republicans have agreed to “divvy up the three upcoming state primary contests.” According to this article Kasich will refrain from campaigning against Cruz to give him the majority over Trump and Cruz will cease campaigning in New Mexico and Oregon for the benefit of Kasich. They are aware that they are dividing the anti-Trump vote, and that the only way of stopping Trump is disabling his victory in winner-take-all states. This is exactly like the prisoner’s dilemma.

Both of the candidates have two options in front of them right now: cooperate and let the other person win or don’t cooperate and keep campaigning. If they both cooperate for the remainder of the primaries, they will both benefit and will likely force an open convention. If neither cooperates Trump will likely win the nomination and both Kasich and Cruz will be out of the race. So it makes a lot of sense for these two rivals to work together for their own good? But will they? I do not think so, because they payoff matrix gives them a clear dominant strategy. If one cooperates, while the other one doesn’t and keeps on with his campaigning, the one who did not cooperate will win big. He will completely eliminate his rival and unite the anti-Trump support behind his back and may even have enough super delegates to beat Trump. The dominant strategy of both of these men is to keep business and usual and not to cooperate. And I believe that they will pursue their own self-interests even if it causes their ultimate failure and Trump’s victory.

Everything around us is a game and politics is surely the biggest. We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

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