Who cares if Presidential candidates are honest?

In a previous post I reported the precipitous drop in public perceptions that Hillary Clinton is “honest and straight-forward” as measured by the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey. I also noted the relative little damage this perception had on her standing as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2016.

So, who cares if a presidential candidate is honest? Thanks to an interesting question on the latest Fox News Poll we can start to answer that question.

The latest Fox News Poll found that 21% of voters say they would still vote for a candidate they mostly agree with on the issues if they believe the candidate “is less than honest and would lie to cover up the truth” while 70% say that would be a “deal breaker.”

The topline data shows that honesty is clearly an important attribute for most voters but the cross-tabulations show intriguing differences by partisanship. Nearly a third (32%) of Democrats saying they would still vote for a dishonest candidate, more than double the share of Republicans (12%) who say the same.

Similar differences exist when looking at the data by age (30% of 18-34 year olds would vote for a dishonest candidate compared to 15% of voters 65+) and ideology (31% of liberals would vote for a dishonest candidate compared to 15% of Conservatives and 10% of Tea Party voters).

While the partisan divide also influences the difference between Blacks and Whites on this measure, the data suggests attitudes are less divided along socio-economic lines like education and household income.

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Bottom Line

Republican voters are often portrayed as more likely to put ideological purity above all else when it comes to choosing their leaders. This data suggests that, on balance, this perception just may not be true.

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