What is the One Trait that Most Americans Don't Want in a President?

Pew Research has polled Americans on the question of experience. Specifically, what role does a candidate’s experience play in voters’ decision in the voting booth.


Somewhat surprisingly, though not really surprisingly given the results in 2008 and 2012, experience in office is not rated very highly by a growing number of Americans. About 30% of Americans rate extensive experience in Washington negatively and would be less likely to vote for a candidate with such experience. About 19% view many years of Washington experience positively. Forty-eight percent say that experience in Washington doesn’t matter at all to their votes. Barack Obama hit that sweet spot, having spent just two years in the US Senate before running for president. He could and did cast himself as in Washington but not of Washington, and that helped him win.

Experience as a governor or business executive rate about the same, with 33% of Americans saying such experience makes them more likely to vote for that candidate over one who lacks that experience. But the negative for business executives is slightly higher, with 13% saying business experience makes them less likely to vote for a candidate, to 5% who say they’re less likely to vote for someone who has been a governor.


If 5% really do resist voting for governors, and 13% really do resist voting for business executives, Mitt Romney will never be president.

According to Pew’s poll, only two things are dealbreakers for a majority of Americans. One of them is a candidate who has never held office before.

The other is a failure to believe.


Atheists would probably be more popular if a few of them weren’t so evangelical about their anger at something that they claim they don’t even believe in.

The 2% who say they’re more likely to vote for someone who has had extramarital affairs? Check yourself.

Pew asked the wrong questions.

The pollsters should have asked voters if they are more or less likely to support someone who watches lots of sports and doesn’t do anything about problems until he sees them on the news. Going by the 2008 and 2012 results, a thin majority of American want exactly that kind of president.


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