Religion, Politics and World Events They make great dinner conversation, don't you think? plus Political Film

Poll: Character Trumps Policy For Voters

Old 03-11-07, 09:42 AM
  #1  
DVD Talk God
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 68,522
Poll: Character Trumps Policy For Voters

http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss...oll2008_traits

By RON FOURNIER and TREVOR TOMPSON, Associated Press Writers

For all the policy blueprints churned out by presidential campaigns, there is this indisputable fact: People care less about issues than they do about a candidate's character.

A new Associated Press-Ipsos poll says 55 percent of those surveyed consider honesty, integrity and other values of character the most important qualities they look for in a presidential candidate.

Just one-third look first to candidates' stances on issues; even fewer focus foremost on leadership traits, experience or intelligence.

"Voters only look at policies as a lens into what type of person the candidate is," said Ken Mehlman, chairman of President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. That campaign based its voter targeting and messaging strategies on the character-first theory.

The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,001 adults, conducted Monday through Wednesday, found honesty was by far the most popular single trait — volunteered by 41 percent of voters in open-ended questioning.

The results might have been different had respondents been forced to choose between either issues or character. But this survey allowed people to volunteer any "qualities or characteristics," and a minority seized on issues.

The findings are consistent with an AP-Ipsos poll from September 2004, when 38 percent of voters chose honesty as the most important quality when picking a president. That was more than any other factor. At the time of that survey, a majority of voters found Bush to be honest.

But in an AP-AOL News poll conducted in January, only 44 percent said they thought Bush was honest.

His decline in the category of trust is widely attributed to the fallout from the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The drop is most prominent among people 30 to 39, suburban women, married women with children and people with household incomes in the $50,000 to $75,000 bracket.

Bush's collapse in the character test should serve as a warning to the 2008 presidential candidates. Character matters, voters say, and they already are sizing up the field.

Among Republican and GOP-leaning voters, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads Arizona Sen. John McCain 35 percent to 22 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 11 percent, followed in the single digits by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

Giuliani leads the pack among voters who look first to a candidate's character, issues and leadership qualities. The only area when McCain pulls even to Giuliani is among voters who cite experience as the most important quality or characteristic in a president.

Among Democrats, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York leads with 38 percent, followed by Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois at 21 percent. Former Vice President Al Gore is at 14 percent and 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards is at 10 percent. The rest of the field is in single digits.

Clinton leads Obama among voters who mention honesty and strong character, compassion, intelligence and stance on issues. The former first lady is tied with Obama among the small number of respondents who value experience, a surprise given Obama's short stint in Washington.

Policies may not get candidates elected. But politicians can use their policies to connect with voters at a gut level.

Former President Clinton's book-length economic blueprint showed voters he would work hard to tackle problems they cared about. His empathy was a winning trait in 1992.

Bush won re-election in 2004 when most people were opposed to the war in Iraq. He used the against-the-grain war policy to cast himself as a strong, decisive leader. It worked until voters started doubting his honesty and competence in 2005.

"Modern day presidential campaigns are essentially character tests, with character broadly defined to encompass a mosaic of traits — looks, likability, vision, philosophy, ideology, biography, communications skills, intelligence, strength, optimism, empathy, ethics, values, among others," said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane of California.

Steffen Schmidt, political science professor at Iowa State University, said the 2008 field faces many challenges in the character contest. The top half-dozen or so candidates have had their honesty or integrity called into question already, including relative newcomer Obama.

"The problem is it's almost impossible to find a human being who lives up to the expectations of voters. Everyone has things they've done that they're not proud of," Schmidt said. "Nobody's character is perfect."

The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. For Democrats and Republicans, it was 4.5 percentage points.
____________

I'm afraid I'm in the minority on this one.

Character is important - but policy is more important, IMO. A candidate can have excellent character and a lousy policy.

There are a number of Republicans who have good character, but I wouldn't vote for them, because they pursue a policy that I don't believe is good for the majority of people in the country.

Could it be that maybe a number in the public is confusing character with something else?

Last edited by classicman2; 03-11-07 at 09:46 AM.
classicman2 is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 10:45 AM
  #2  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: MI
Posts: 25,054
For a politician, "character" is a carefully crafted public persona that hasn't been cracked yet. (and usually isn't real) Therefore, I, too, am more concerned about policy, and whether they actually do what they claim they will do (which unfortunately requires character, and probably explains why I am so frequently disappointed.)
OldDude is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 10:48 AM
  #3  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 14,204
Originally Posted by OldDude
For a politician, "character" is a carefully crafted public persona that hasn't been cracked yet. (and usually isn't real) Therefore, I, too, am more concerned about policy, and whether they actually do what they claim they will do (which unfortunately requires character, and probably explains why I am so frequently disappointed.)
Absolutely. "Character" is typically entirely fictional. What this shows is that, when people vote for President, they vote with their gut, not their head. It's not about who is the better candidate -- it's about who feels like the better candidate. Which is entirely driven by 30-second commercials and carefully crafted sound bites.
NCMojo is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 11:17 AM
  #4  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Posts: 36,981
I think character is important. But most of my votes have been for policy and not character.
Venusian is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 02:36 PM
  #5  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
GreenMonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 5,377
Originally Posted by NCMojo
Absolutely. "Character" is typically entirely fictional. What this shows is that, when people vote for President, they vote with their gut, not their head. It's not about who is the better candidate -- it's about who feels like the better candidate. Which is entirely driven by 30-second commercials and carefully crafted sound bites.
agreed
GreenMonkey is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 02:49 PM
  #6  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,899
Character counts? Have they been to Cook County?
Corvin is offline  
Old 03-11-07, 05:30 PM
  #7  
Admin-Thanos
 
VinVega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Caught between the moon and NYC
Posts: 31,584
6 posts and not one mention of the Carbon Blobs™? You people are slacking here.
VinVega is offline  
Old 03-12-07, 12:18 AM
  #8  
DVD Talk God
 
kvrdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Pacific NW
Posts: 86,201
That would explain Jimmy Carter, but no one else. Not sure that I believe that character is actually important....I think people just want to believe it is.
kvrdave is offline  
Old 03-12-07, 07:31 AM
  #9  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Posts: 6,603
The vast majority of the American people are uninformed about policy issues,
and (frankly) are too stupid to understand such matters, anyway.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the American people are also too stupid to be good judges of character.
Count Dooku is offline  
Old 03-12-07, 08:27 AM
  #10  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Shackled
Posts: 35,372
Originally Posted by kvrdave
That would explain Jimmy Carter, but no one else. Not sure that I believe that character is actually important....I think people just want to believe it is.
I would agree. This looks like crap research.

"Uhm yeah, I like playboy for the articles"

People knowingly lie about their motives and/or they are unaware of what motivates them.

Recent example -- I was doing some research on corporate reputation. People reported that social responsibility was important. However using pretty straightforward statistical techniques I was able to demonstrate that companies highly rated in social responsibility didn't really get a lift in reputation because of it (and those low in responsibility didn't get hurt).
Bushdog is offline  
Old 03-12-07, 08:41 AM
  #11  
DVD Talk Godfather
 
The Bus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 54,863
Originally Posted by Bushdog
I would agree. This looks like crap research.

"Uhm yeah, I like playboy for the articles"
But I do!
The Bus is offline  
Old 03-12-07, 09:05 AM
  #12  
Moderator
 
wendersfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Nuova Repubblica di Salò
Posts: 32,854
Originally Posted by Bushdog
I would agree. This looks like crap research.

"Uhm yeah, I like playboy for the articles"

People knowingly lie about their motives and/or they are unaware of what motivates them.
I would argue that people filter all their perceptions through ideology and party identification, and as such are more likely to attribute positive values to those with whom they agree, and negative ones to those with whom they don't.
wendersfan is offline  
Old 03-12-07, 09:27 AM
  #13  
DVD Talk God
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 68,522
Originally Posted by wendersfan
I would argue that people filter all their perceptions through ideology and party identification, and as such are more likely to attribute positive values to those with whom they agree, and negative ones to those with whom they don't.
I think a bunch of people do.

I don't believe I do.
classicman2 is offline  
Old 03-12-07, 11:49 AM
  #14  
DVD Talk Hero
 
JasonF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 39,519
Originally Posted by The Bus
But I do!
Me too!

("Articles" is a euphimism for "breasts," isn't it?)
JasonF is online now  
Old 03-12-07, 09:12 PM
  #15  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Shackled
Posts: 35,372
Originally Posted by wendersfan
I would argue that people filter all their perceptions through ideology and party identification, and as such are more likely to attribute positive values to those with whom they agree, and negative ones to those with whom they don't.
Well, that too. But that's why you don't do polls for this kind of thing and instead you use survey research to tease out the impact of partisanship, etc...
Bushdog is offline  
Old 03-13-07, 12:05 AM
  #16  
Political Exile
 
grundle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 16,322
I can't find the poll choices.
grundle is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.