What Makes You Vote For a Candidate, Issues or Character?

Do Voters Care About Issues or Character?

(RightWing.org) – Throughout the Democratic primaries and into the 2020 general election, Democrats attempted to make the case that character matters. During the second presidential debate, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden claimed that “character is on the ballot.”

Is it?

That depends on who is asked. One thing is clear: Democrats believe that Donald Trump doesn’t have any character. Meanwhile, Biden’s character flaws are being revealed in his inability to tell the truth and in his potential pay to play scandal that is breaking new news on an almost daily basis.

New Poll Suggests Issues Are What Matters

In a new Washington Examiner/YouGov poll, more voters say good policies are more important than character issues. Overall, 46% support a candidate’s policies they agreed with, even if they have bad character. In contrast, 33% said they prefer a candidate with good character regardless of whether they agreed with their positions on the issues.

The breakdown by party affiliation is where things really get interesting. The poll reflects the partisan nature of today’s politics.

  • Among Democrats, only 26% said they would support a candidate with bad character
  • Among Republicans, 73% said policies were more important than character
  • Among independents, 47% chose policies over character

Why the Question Matters

American political culture is evolving as trust in every politician is virtually non-existent among the public. While the president receives the most scrutiny by pollsters, the citizens distrust Congress more than the president. In a recent Statista poll, Congress’ approval rating was a mere 17% in September.

The question regarding character or policy is important because Americans don’t trust politicians. When trust is eroded, what else is there to evaluate a politician on if their words can’t be trusted?

All one can do is look at their actions.

In that context, it makes sense that Republicans believe by 73% in Trump’s policies. He’s done what he said he would do:

  • Cut regulations
  • Reduced taxes
  • Renegotiated trade deals
  • Reduced illegal immigration
  • Appointed conservatives to federal courts and the Supreme Court
  • Promoted pro-life causes

When a Party Is Underperforming on Policy, Attack Character

When evaluating the president’s conservative wins, it also makes sense why Democrats prefer character over policy. For four years, they lost on policy issues.

When a politician can’t win on policy, what is left? Character. Since President Trump was inaugurated in 2017, Democrats have systematically accused him of lying, racism, and xenophobia. Instead of focusing on policies, they created a character narrative.

The challenges for any politician who starts talking about the opposition’s character include:

  • Demonstrating they are likely losing on issues and have nothing to offer that the majority of voters like
  • Attempting to distract from their own character flaws by deflecting them onto the opposing candidate

The reality is that results are what matters to voters and motivates the majority to show up at the polls. According to the US Elections Project, over 71 million out of 240 million eligible voters Americans have already voted.

Will they be voting on character or results?

It likely depends on if the political party of choice was winning or losing on the issues.

By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor

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