How Honest Is Your Favorite Candidate?

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I was browsing through my Twitter feed a few minutes ago and a string of tweets inspired me to do a bit of original research about the honesty of our presidential candidates. I think we all have a gut feel for who’s fairly honest and who’s not, but I figured there might be a more rigorous way to measure this.

So I hopped over to PolitiFact. Not because they’re an infallible source of fact checking, but because they’re convenient and probably as good as anyone else. Then I looked up all the candidates. I gave them 5 points for each statement judged True, 4 for each statement judged Mostly True, etc., all the way to zero points for each statement judged Pants On Fire. Then I averaged the scores. Here are the results:

I have a few special awards to hand out, as well as a couple of comments:

  • Cheers to Bernie Sanders, the only candidate with not a single Pants On Fire rating.
  • Jeers to Donald Trump, who failed to earn a single True rating.
  • Double jeers to Ben Carson, who remarkably failed to get a single True rating or a single Mostly True rating.
  • The average Democratic rating is 3.34. The average Republican rating is 2.26.
  • Among Republicans, honesty is the exact inverse of popularity. Jeb Bush is the most honest, and he’s got the lowest poll numbers among the serious candidates. Donald Trump and Ben Carson are the least honest by quite a bit, and they’re also leading the field by quite a bit. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are in the middle on both honesty and popularity.

I especially draw your attention to the last bullet. It’s eerie. It’s almost as if the Republican electorate wants to be lied to, and the more you lie, the more they like you. I’ll hold off on guessing precisely what this means, but it might explain a lot about this year’s GOP primary race.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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