PROJECTING LEADERSHIP: THE INTERPLAY OF PERSONALITY AND POLICY IN U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS
Johns Hopkins University
This study delves into the intricate nexus between personality traits in politics and their influence on electoral outcomes, specifically within the context of U.S. presidential elections from 2000 to 2020. The research utilizes a three-pronged approach: a content analysis of presidential debates to discern strategic trait-mentions, an examination of American National Election Study (ANES) data to capture voter evaluations of candidates based on specific traits, and an exploration of candidates' foreign policy emphasis, reflecting their projection of leadership. Key findings suggest Republicans consistently emphasize traits more than Democrats in debates, and there is noticeable variability in trait preference across partisan lines, particularly among Independents. A shift from domestic to foreign policy considerations was also observed over the years, indicating an electorate more cognizant of international influences on domestic policy. This change allows candidates to demonstrate their leadership skills through their stance on international matters. The culmination of these insights presents a comprehensive view, underscoring the dynamic interplay of candidate personality portrayals, voter preferences, and policy considerations in shaping electoral dynamics. The research emphasizes the imperative for political transparency and robust representation, aiming to demystify leadership roles and promote informed electoral choices for the greater societal benefit.