The American public elect their next President today. The US is leading as the world’s most Covid-19 affected country and there has been mounting discontent over the government’s handling of the outbreak. This combined with the Black Lives Matter movement and spiralling fears over the global climate crisis means the US 2020 Presidential election is like few before it. This is reflected in record numbers opting to vote early. 80 million people, equivalent to more than 58 per cent of the total turnout in 2016, have already cast their ballots.
While the polls are narrowing, they remain heavily in the Democratic candidate’s favour. A recent survey conducted by ViewsHub, offers a more detailed analysis. The survey invited participants to rate the performance and character traits of each of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates.
Those participating in the poll were asked to rate each candidate out of five across six areas: ‘getting things done’; ‘has the skills and competence for the job’; ‘responds well to changing circumstances’; ‘responds quickly and positively to stakeholders’; ‘inspires others to do their best’; ‘earns trust from allies and respect from adversaries’. These ratings were then converted into an average.
On top of this, the survey also measured user perceptions of the candidates’ individual character traits across three broad categories: ‘energy’ (how they work); ‘interpersonal’ (how they interact); and ‘intelligence’ (how they think). Within each of these categories users were asked to rate, on a sliding scale, each characters’ traits. One example featured a scale with ‘self-centred’ at one end through to ‘selfless’ at the other.
The Senator and Vice-Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, Kamala Harris, received a score of 3.7 out of 5 and was viewed as ‘highly intuitive’, ‘conscientious’ and ‘tenacious’. Examining her rating in more detail, Harris was regarded as the best at ‘getting things done’, ‘responding well to changing circumstances’, and ‘reacting quickly and positively to stakeholders’.
Significantly, Harris’s scores complemented those of her running mate and Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, who received the second highest score at 3.5 out of 5 and was perceived to be ‘ambitious’, ‘fun’ and ‘optimistic’. Similar to Harris, Biden is considered to react quickly and positively to stakeholders and scored highly where she fell short in earning trust from allies and respect from adversaries.
Incumbent Vice-Presidential candidate, Mike Pence, came third with a 3.4 score out of 5. His top traits were deemed to be ‘sociable’, ‘caring but puts himself first’. When analysing his score in greater detail his ability to positively and quickly respond to stakeholders received the highest rating, but the score was low in his competence for the job and trust levels.
Interestingly, President Trump received the lowest score with a rating of 3.0. He was considered to be ‘focused on himself’, ‘retaliatory’ and ‘saying anything to get things done’. Trump’s rating breakdown saw him score best in his capacity to ‘get things done, and worst in his ability to ‘respond well to changing circumstances’.
The Team Ticket
It is often forgotten by the electorate that they are voting for a team. Previous research has shown that for teams to perform at their best ability, cognitive diversity is crucial. For the President and Vice President complementary character traits and differing problem-solving abilities enable the most effective and pragmatic results.
The results from this survey reflect the nature and need of complementary teams. Originally chosen in 2016, Pence was able to offer Trump a sense of credibility among social conservatives and evangelical Republican voters. This still holds true. Results from the survey found that Pence scored highly compared to Trump in his competency for the job role. Additionally, where Trump fell short in his ability to respond quickly and positively to stakeholders, Pence faired more favourably.
This pattern is repeated under Biden and Harris. Harris was deemed to be strong in her ‘response to changing circumstances’, a trait in which Biden fell short. Similarly, Biden compensates for Harris’s short comings, particularly her perceived lack of ability ‘to earn trust from allies and respect from adversaries’. Additionally, Biden’s moniker of ‘Sleepy Joe’ has served to amplify voters’ concern for his age. However, Harris offers relative youth, energy and most notably diversity to the ticket. As the first African-American, the first Asian-American, and only the third female Vice-Presidential running mate, Kamala Harris fills all the gaps where Biden falls short.
Though the results of this survey are compelling, history shows us that that voter views and perceptions in the run up to the election can contrast dramatically with a completed ballot paper. In just a matter of hours we will find out which team the American public want in the White House and who will serve as the next leaders of the free world.