Targeted Negative Campaigning: Complexity and Approximations

Avishai Zagoury, Orgad Keller, Avinatan Hassidim, Noam Hazon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Given the ubiquity of negative campaigning in recent political elections, we find it important to study its properties from a computational perspective. To this end, we present a model where elections can be manipulated by convincing voters to demote specific non-favored candidates, and study its properties in the classic setting of scoring rules. When the goal is constructive (making a preferred candidate win), we prove that finding such a demotion strategy is easy for Plurality and Veto, while generally hard for t-approval and Borda. We also provide a t-factor approximation for tapproval for every fixed t, and a 3-factor approximation algorithm for Borda. Interestingly enough—following recent trends in political science that show that the effectiveness of negative campaigning depends on the type of candidate and demographic—when assigning varying prices to different possible demotion operations, we are able to provide inapproximability results. When the goal is destructive (making the leading opponent lose), we show that the problem is easy for a broad class of scoring rules.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication35th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2021
PublisherAssociation for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781713835974
StatePublished - 2021
Event35th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 2 Feb 20219 Feb 2021

Publication series

Name35th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2021


Conference35th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2021
CityVirtual, Online


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