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- INSIDER polled voters about how they feel about presidential candidate attributes or qualifications, and then matched up the findings with the resumes of the 2020 Democratic field.
- We asked respondents about a list of possible qualifications and if they made them more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate for president.
- The 2020 Democrat candidate who ranked the highest based on what Americans value in a resume was Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who is among the lowest-ranked candidates vying for the Democratic nomination.
- This goes to show that even if a candidate has attributes that are appealing to voters, it doesn’t always translate into success on the campaign trail.
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Presidential candidates can sometimes appear as if they’ve been carefully cultivating their resumes since childhood, anticipating that they’d one day run for the highest office in the land.
Whether or not that’s actually the case, INSIDER polling found there are specific qualities that Americans say make them more likely to vote for candidates.
INSIDER has conducted polling about how voters feel about candidate attributes or qualifications. We asked respondents about a list of possible qualifications and if they made them more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate for president.
For example, among respondents who said they’d vote in the Democratic primary, 19% said a candidate being a college professor made them likelier to support them, while 4% said it made them less likely to, for a +15% net favorability. We can then see how different candidates’ resumes stack up compared to those preferences.
Of all the options, here were the resume items or qualities that would make Americans more likely to support a candidate.
- Served as a governor (+33%)
- Grew up middle class (+29%)
- Served as vice president (+28%)
- Has released tax returns (+26%)
- Member of the Senate (+25.5%)
- Armed forces veteran (+25%)
- Grew up poor (+23%)
- Member of the House of Representatives (+22%)
- Age 50 or younger (+17%)
- Multi-lingual (+15%)
For respondents who said they’d vote in the Democratic primary, attributes perceived as most valuable included released tax returns (+43%), status as a Senator (+40%), that he grew up poor (+28%), history as an activist (+28%), his 20+ years of government service (+21%), status as a child of immigrants (+21%), and identity as a Democratic socialist (+18%).
The 2020 Democrat candidate who ranked the highest based on what Americans value in a resume was Montana Governor Steve Bullock, who is among the lowest-ranked candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. Bullock grew up in a middle class family, has worked as a law professor and has released his tax returns.
This goes to show that even if a candidate has attributes that are appealing to voters, it doesn’t always translate into success on the campaign trail.
When you look at the rankings of candidates based on what respondents who said they’d vote in the Democratic primary said, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont comes out on top. He’s followed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren in second and Cory Booker in third. Sanders and Warren are among the top-ranked candidates, while Booker is closer to the middle of the pack.
Meanwhile, the current frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic nomination, Joe Biden, ranked 13 overall with Democratic voters. Comparatively, he came in 7th when you rank candidates based on what all respondents said, while Sanders came in sixth and Warren in fifth.
And Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, an Afghanistan veteran whose resume has often been a subject of conversation along the campaign trail, came in 2nd with all respondents based on the attributes they view favorably.
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,168 respondents collected May 17 to May 18, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.01 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.
Walt Hickey contributed reporting.