I recently became interested in certain claims made by politicians and their perception among the public. In particular, I want to know how trustworthy a candidate is. Furthermore, I want to be able to back up or refute claims made by people about one candidate being more “honest” or “trustworthy”.
Methods and Bias
My methods are simple. I compiled statistics based on each candidate from PolitiFact and graphed the results below while also calculating a Trustworthiness Grade Point Average (TGPA). The pie chart is a simple breakdown of each category that Politfact assigned to a particular statement. The TGPA is a simple weighted average of each statement on a standard academic 4.0 scale system where “true” was assigned a value of 4.0 and “Pants On Fire” got a 0.0 and all other values where equally distributed in the range [0.0-4.0].
There is also the chance of bias from PolitiFact. For that I refer you to the PolitiFact Bias Blog where you can form your own opinion. This data also represents a rather small sample size, in particular for Ron Paul who does not receive nearly as much press coverage as other candidates. It should also be noted that PolitiFact does not rate every statement but rather statements that can be fact checked and that have some “boldness” or public interest. Therefore, I wouldn’t use this as a measurement of their personal character but rather how well they present themselves relative to known or verifiable facts in a political landscape.
Being a Ron Paul supporter, I was not too surprised to see he ranked among the top of the field. Newt’s record was anticipated, but I did expect Romney and Satorum to be reversed. Obama’s record was not what I predicted until I realized that he doesn’t make bold claims of fact as much as bold promises. In particular, Obama seems very good at avoiding outlandish remarks that would earn him a “Pants On Fire” ruling. Overall I was disappointed that the best republican rating was a C+ and best overall was a B-.
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