rlange - 4:39 pm on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)
I am likely wrong, but could it not be a case of
1. If a +1 button is on your site and there are little to no clicks on it, would Google not be saying this is not a very popular site, and use it for a reason to down rank you.
2. If there is no +1 button to click on a site there is no info so Google cannot see how popular or un-popular your sites are, thus perhaps not using lack of +1 clicks as a reason to down rank?
Extremely unlikely. A +1 Button with 0 clicks is the same as a page without a +1 button. No negative, no positive. There's absolutely no need to count a 0 or a smaller-positive-number-than-your-competition as a negative. Being less popular than your competition is its own "penalty".
I think a lot of people have a perception problem when it comes to ranking. They seem to view the #1 spot as "zero", and everything below that as some sort of negative value. If you're not #1, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're doing something "wrong"; it might just mean that you're not doing something as well as the folks ahead of you.
Remember, the winner of a sports match isn't the team that has the least penalties; it's the team that scores the most points.
Unless it's golf. *shakes fist*