The Trump Draw: Voter Personality and Support for Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican Nomination Campaign

David Fortunato, Matthew V. Hibbing, Jeffery J. Mondak

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This study explores how variation in voters’ personality traits, as represented by the Big Five framework, corresponded with variation in judgments regarding the leading presidential candidates during the 2016 nomination campaign. We argue that the context of a crowded field and an atypical candidate in the Republican nomination campaign activated personalistic criteria for candidate evaluation—voters’ own personality traits plausibly gave direction to their candidate assessments, and personality was a useful basis on which to differentiate between eventual winner Donald Trump and the other leading Republican competitors early in the primary process. Analyses make use of data from a large national survey fielded at the time of the Iowa caucuses. Results show that voters with a particular constellation of personality traits—high conscientiousness and extraversion, and low openness, agreeableness, and neuroticism—favored Donald Trump as compared with Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and the remainder of the Republican field.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)785-810
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Personality
  • Big 5
  • Primary elections
  • Voting

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