- Citi Research
Politicians aren’t known for being the most honest of people.
But with the rise of digital media, they can now more easily get away with fudging the truth.
“Innovations that have occurred in social media … have had a negative effect upon public trust,” a Citi Research team led by Tina Fordham observes.
“While digital media can be a great source of information, there are numerous sites with false information, conspiracy theories, and invented statistics. This allows for politicians to make claims that are not factually correct but are circulated by Twitter.”
Using data from the fact-checker PolitiFact, the Citi team found that the percentage of politicians’ statements that were “true or mostly true” ranged from 4% (Ben Carson) to 53% (Bernie Sanders) – which can be seen in the chart above. On the flip side, the percentage of politicians’ statements that were “mostly false to ‘pants on fire'” ranged from 84% (Ben Carson) to 24% (Martin O’Malley).
And for what it’s worth, the team found that only 7% of Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s statements were factually correct, compared with 21% for Ted Cruz and 51% for Hillary Clinton.
- Citi Research
But more importantly, the Citi team argues that the proliferation of digital media and the ease with which one can spread incorrect information are further pushing people to be less trusting of “the elites.”
Nowadays, people are increasingly likely to consider their friends, families, and inner circles as their “most trusted sources” of information.
In fact, regular folks are more likely to trust “a person like themselves” over a non-governmental-organization rep, a financial (or other industry) analyst, or a CEO or government official, according to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer.
The big takeaway here is that these two charts reflect regular people’s frustration with and distrust of the perceived elites and large institutions – whether a big bank or a political party.
And that has led (and could continue to lead) to a rise in anti-establishment sentiment and political parties that break from the mainstream, which could eventually affect business and investment environments, according to Citi.
But it will also be interesting to see any side effects of people listening only to people like themselves – and whether that will lead even more wrong information to be spread.
Especially considering that this analysis by Citi suggests the biggest antiestablishment stars in the GOP race (Trump and Carson) tell fewer true statements than the in-house candidates.