The Tragedy of the Republican Presidential Commons
Who asked Nikki Haley to run for president? Can somebody introduce us to the gentlepersons who convinced Tim Scott to enter the contest? Is anybody outside of his family and his congregation urging Mike Pence to join the Republican field? The same applies to the other long shots — Vivek Ramaswamy, Doug Burgum, Chris Sununu and Chris Christie — who have been flashing their presidential dance cards at voters. Have any of them stopped to consider the deleterious effect that having a swarm of candidates in the race might have on the outcome?
This is from Jack Shafer, “Return of the Republican Clown Car,” Politico, June 1, 2023.
Shafer goes on to point out, correctly, in my view, that the large number of candidates will likely give a plurality of votes to Donald Trump and that, therefore, he will likely be the 2024 presidential candidate.
In answer to Shafer’s last question, my guess is that some of them stopped and asked that question but some of them, at least, thought they could be “the one.” Others are probably doing it for the publicity and the related other things that publicity might lead to.
What this illustrates is the tragedy of the commons. Each knows that his or her probability of winning is small and would like the others to exit so that he/she will have a much higher probability. None of them has a strong incentive to care about the big picture that, I’m guessing, they all would like to avoid: the nomination of Donald Trump.
That’s the way the commons works.
For more on that, see the article that I commissioned the late Garrett Hardin to write for The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, “The Tragedy of the Commons.”