Skip to Content

Republicans Want Honesty In a Leader More Than Democrats

Annual Halloween Parade Held In New YorkAnnual Halloween Parade Held In New York
People wearing the masks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the 42nd Annual Halloween Parade on Oct. 31, 2015 in New York City.Photograph by Bilgin S. Sasmaz—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

We’ve presented this year’s choices of the World’s Greatest Leaders. We’ve given our take on the world’s most disappointing leaders. But what are people really looking for in a leader?

A Fortune/Morning Consult poll attempted to answer the question by asking 2,071 registered voters to pick two out of a list of qualities that they deemed most important in a good leader. The list consisted of a number of traits such as confidence, creativity, wealth and whether a leader was admired by all.

Based on our survey, two leadership qualities stood out among the rest: honesty and integrity.

 

What is more interesting, however, is the insights varied when you break down voters by political party affiliation, age, the region they come from, and even income. Take the category of politics—as the Republican and Democratic machineries gear up for their respective presidential nominations, there are specific differences between what GOP and Democratic voters seem to want in their chosen leader.

 

While both sets of voters desired honesty and integrity, 41% of Democratic voters viewed experience as a much more desirable quality compared to just 23% of Republican voters. GOP voters also valued confidence a significant amount more than Democrats, 24% to 14% respectively. Observers will note that these characteristics align with perceived strengths found in frontrunners Hillary Clinton (Democrats) and Donald Trump (Republicans), leading to a possible confirmation bias among party-affiliated respondents.

When it came to age groups, there’s a marked difference between how younger voters, ages 18 to 29, valued integrity as an important leadership trait compared with those over 65. In the younger bracket, 39% saw integrity as one of the most important qualities in a leader. Meanwhile, 57% of poll takers 65-years-old consider integrity was an important quality in a leader.

 

There was also a gap between how the young and old viewed humility. Around 13% of the youngest respondents saw it as an important leadership characteristic, while just 1% of those over 65 said it was necessary in good leaders.

 

Even how much one earns became a differentiating point. For those earning under $50,000 annually, 57% of them said honesty was the most important characteristic in a leader. For those reaping over $100,000 a year, 38% said it was most important.

Regions also splintered choices—those who hail from the Northeast, for example, differed from their counterparts when it came to choosing confidence as an essential leadership attribute, with 23% from that region selecting it compared to 11% from the Midwest. Those from the Midwest, however, valued honesty more than Northeasters by a 58% to 49% margin.