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America Already Agrees on Who Should Be President

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 29/03/2016 Zach Foster
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During this election, it sometimes feels like we are becoming an America that can't agree on anything. Are our values and beliefs so different that we could never align on one candidate?
From our experience as brand positioning gurus we know that people select and are loyal to brands they believe embody personality traits that align with their own. We wondered if this would hold true with this election's political candidates as well. What role does personality play in political choices, and is it the candidates' perceived personality traits that separate voters so significantly in this contentious race?
To answer these questions, we asked nearly 200 voters to describe:
1) their own personality traits (how they would describe their personality)
2) the perceived characteristics/traits of the candidates they support and,
3) the perceived characteristics/traits of the candidates they do not support.

We found that, unlike their brand choices, voters from both parties are not searching for a candidate who matches their own personality traits, but rather they are looking for a specific set of admirable attributes that they themselves may or may not have. These traits remain consistent for all candidates. It doesn't matter who they support, voters describe their candidates using the exact same personality traits.
If you compare the personality traits used to describe Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, for instance, you might believe they were the same person. Because regardless of who voters support, they describe both candidates using the same five characteristics (chosen from a group of 24 psychology-based options): Industrious, Passionate, Realistic, Direct and Problem Solver. It appears that these words have become the canon of characteristics that make a candidate worthy of support.
The major difference is how voters decipher these key characteristics. Each of the personality traits was clearly defined, yet supporters often interpret these traits very differently. For example:TRAIT #1: REALISTICConcerned with what is practical and factual rather than speculative.
DONALD TRUMP
SUPPORTERS SAY HE'S A...
STRAIGHT TALKER
Trump "knows what the real problems in America are" and isn't afraid to talk about them. He is always "straightforward" with his supporters and "says what he means."
HILLARY CLINTON
SUPPORTERS SAY SHE'S A...

WASHINGTON PRAGMATIST

Clinton "understands the realities of government" and "knows how much can actually be accomplished in four years." She promises "attainable goals" and therefore gives her supporters "realistic expectations."
TRAIT #2: PROBLEM SOLVERAble to achieve solutions to difficult problems by identifying and resolving key issues.
DONALD TRUMP
SUPPORTERS SAY HE'S A...
BUSINESS DEAL MAKER
Trump is a successful businessman who "knows how to make a deal" and "get stuff done." "He knows how to fix problems and he will do what he says he will do."
HILLARY CLINTON

SUPPORTERS SAY SHE'S A...
PROVEN NEGOTIATOR
Clinton has "experience negotiating difficult situations as Secretary of State" and "knows the ins and outs of government to get things done." She is "willing to compromise and work across party lines"
TRAIT #3: INDUSTRIOUSHard-working and diligentDONALD TRUMPSUPPORTERS SAY HE'S A...PERSEVERANT MOGUL
Trump is a "successful businessman and billionaire," who's "worked hard," "taken risks," and "overcome failures" to establish "a huge personal empire."
HILLARY CLINTONSUPPORTERS SAY SHE'S A...POLITICAL PRO
Clinton has "an accomplished resume" and has "worked hard" to overcome "challenges and sexism" to establish her "long political career."
TRAIT #4: PASSIONATEBeing deeply involved or having intense feelings toward ideas or causes.DONALD TRUMPSUPPORTERS SAY HE'S A...STRONG BELIEVER
Trump is "very passionate about his beliefs" and "is not afraid to say what others will not." To his supporters, his speeches demonstrate that "Trump is passionate about making America great again."
HILLARY CLINTONSUPPORTERS SAY SHE'S A...CIVIL SERVANT
Clinton has "dedicated her life to civil service" and has proven she is "passionate about helping the American people." Supporters also recognize her passion on issues like women's rights and healthcare.
TRAIT #5: DIRECTCandid, to the point.DONALD TRUMPSUPPORTERS SAY HE'S A...TRUTH TELLER
Trump "doesn't sugarcoat things" and "isn't afraid of offending people." To supporters, Trump's ability to "always speak his mind" shows he "stays true to himself."
HILLARY CLINTONSUPPORTERS SAY SHE'S A...CLEAR-CUT PLANNER
Clinton is "to the point" and clearly "explains how she's going to achieve her goals." Even the supporters who don't believe Clinton is "necessarily honest" see her as a candidate who "speaks up for her beliefs."
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But the parallels don't stop at supporters' positive interpretations. Candidates are described the same way by both their supporters and non-supporters, but voters' interpretations of those traits couldn't be more different.

For example, both people who love Clinton and those who oppose her see her as "flexible," and the same is true for Trump being "direct." The difference lies in how voters unravel the meaning of those words.
HILLARY CLINTON
"FLEXIBLE"

+
For Clinton supporters, "flexible" has a positive connotation, "she is willing to change with the times and work with people."

-
For non-supporters "flexible" takes a different meaning. "She is wishy-washy and changes her mind all the time."
DONALD TRUMP
"DIRECT"

+
For Trump, being direct is seen as a positive characteristic to his supporters, "he speaks his mind and stays true to himself."

-
Non-supporters agree that Trump is direct, but instead say, "he is a bully."


These parallels show that voters see candidates the same way, thus the qualities they exhibit are not unique. This consistent use of the same five words suggests that these aren't just the qualities voters see in candidates, they are the qualities they desire to see. Voters' interpretation of how a candidate embodies these characteristics is a selective filter to make their candidate fit into an ideal presidential mold.
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For more information on these findings, please contact us at contact@brado.net.About Brädo Creative Insight
Brädo is a tight-knit, fast-growing strategic marketing research firm born and based in St. Louis. The company works exclusively with some of the world's largest and most influential brands across a variety of categories. Leading these initiatives are Creative Strategists - hungry, dynamic individuals with advertising agency, creative, planning and research backgrounds, as well as senior level client side marketing experience.
Visit www.brado.net to learn more about Brädo Creative Insight

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