How Honest Is Your Favorite Candidate?

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I was browsing through my Twitter feed a few minutes ago and a string of tweets inspired me to do a bit of original research about the honesty of our presidential candidates. I think we all have a gut feel for who’s fairly honest and who’s not, but I figured there might be a more rigorous way to measure this.

So I hopped over to PolitiFact. Not because they’re an infallible source of fact checking, but because they’re convenient and probably as good as anyone else. Then I looked up all the candidates. I gave them 5 points for each statement judged True, 4 for each statement judged Mostly True, etc., all the way to zero points for each statement judged Pants On Fire. Then I averaged the scores. Here are the results:

I have a few special awards to hand out, as well as a couple of comments:

  • Cheers to Bernie Sanders, the only candidate with not a single Pants On Fire rating.
  • Jeers to Donald Trump, who failed to earn a single True rating.
  • Double jeers to Ben Carson, who remarkably failed to get a single True rating or a single Mostly True rating.
  • The average Democratic rating is 3.34. The average Republican rating is 2.26.
  • Among Republicans, honesty is the exact inverse of popularity. Jeb Bush is the most honest, and he’s got the lowest poll numbers among the serious candidates. Donald Trump and Ben Carson are the least honest by quite a bit, and they’re also leading the field by quite a bit. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are in the middle on both honesty and popularity.

I especially draw your attention to the last bullet. It’s eerie. It’s almost as if the Republican electorate wants to be lied to, and the more you lie, the more they like you. I’ll hold off on guessing precisely what this means, but it might explain a lot about this year’s GOP primary race.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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