The June 1st Quinnipiac poll revealed a remarkable disconnect: more independent voters thought that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump was more trustworthy than presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. This isn’t a fluke, because a concurrent ABC/Washington Post poll came to similar conclusions—That people generally believe that Clinton lies more than Trump.
However, that is not the case at all. Donald Trump is a much bigger liar. He says less true things, and he utters much more bald-faced lies. What can explain this misperception among potential voters?
First, here is a chart I built based on Politifact’s Personality files (compiled June 22, 2106). Click to view in new tab.
The only place where Clinton outdoes Trump is in the “Mostly False” category. Politifact has recorded 32 mostly-false statements by Madame Secretary, versus 27 by Trump. So they’re neck-and neck here, but everywhere else, Hillary Clinton clearly tells more truth and less lies than Donald Trump. So why do more people think Hillary is a bigger liar?
To answer this, we first have to normalize the data. First, partisan voters (those already declared Democrat or Republican) tend to see the opposition as a bigger liar by roughly the same ratio: 80–10. However, independents tend to believe Trump over Clinton by a ratio of 44–29 percent. I think this is because of the “Mostly False” statements made by Clinton. I believe they tend to remember those more than any other statements she makes. Here are some examples from Politifact:
Does the opposition run away with these statements? Undoubtedly.
One other reason that I think more people don’t trust the Former First Lady and Senator is that her statements have always had much heavier political import than Trump—for decades actually. From the “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy” to “What difference does it make?”, Hillary Clinton’s words have had a major impact on world events. That is to say, she has taken many risks, and some of those risks have failed.
Trump, on the other hand, can lie with impunity and get away with it. He does not suffer the consequences of his “pants-on-fire” utterances. On the contrary, many of Trump’s untruths have actually boosted his popularity. How long will he continue to get away with his bullshit? All the way to the White House? Let’s hope not.