The 2016 election continues to be one of the most tumultuous, interesting, and unique political campaigns ever and has brought previous research about the impact candidates’ character traits have on vote choice into question. Research has been done that examines what socioeconomic and cultural circumstances cause voters to use either candidate traits, policy issues, or ideology as voting cues, but there has not been much analysis on what specific candidate traits voters respond most positively to. According to previous research, voters place a higher value on candidate traits having to do with competence than they do on traits that have to do with a candidates’ warmth and personability. In light of the 2016 presidential election, some competency-related character traits may not be as valued in political candidates as they were thought to be, as American culture and society continues to change. In relation to this, the following study will analyze competency-related character traits in presidential candidates and examine which specific trait; morality, perceived leadership ability, or knowledgeability, potential voters respond most positively to when evaluating presidential candidates. After doing a secondary data analysis using the NES 2012 data set, results indicate that voters overwhelmingly respond more positively to presidential candidates who they perceive as having strong leadership ability.
Gatzke, Claire, "Political Psychology: The Effect of Presidential Candidate Traits on Voters’ Opinions" (2016). Student Research Day Abstracts and Posters. 197.