SOURCE: The Values Institute at DGWB

The Values Institute at DGWB

October 29, 2012 09:07 ET

Trustworthiness of Obama and Romney Below Voter Expectations

The Values Institute Presidential TrustPulse™ Survey Is the First to Study Trustworthiness of Presidential Candidates; President Obama Outpacing Governor Romney in Overall Trust Rating

SANTA ANA, CA--(Marketwire - Oct 29, 2012) - As the 2012 Presidential Campaign nears its conclusion, the first Presidential TrustPulse survey to rate the trustworthiness of President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney reveals a significant gap between voter expectations and the level of trust that both candidates have earned. The survey, conducted by The Values Institute at DGWB (, a social sciences research entity housed at DGWB Advertising & Communications, also shows Obama outperforming Romney with higher average ratings in 24 important dimensions measuring trust.

Unlike presidential election polls, the TrustPulse survey is the first of its kind to study the trustworthiness of presidential candidates, and examine the reasons behind trust that may ultimately lead to votes. The study was conducted as an anonymous online survey fielded Oct. 4-8, 2012. The data were collected from 1,048 eligible voters with weights applied to the sample by race, age and party affiliation to reflect the national population.

"Our values-focused approach is based on decades of social science research from the fields of sociology, psychology, and economics. From this point of view, we created the first Presidential TrustPulse survey that puts trustworthiness at the forefront of a presidential race," said Mike Weisman, founder of The Values Institute at DGWB and co-founder and president of DGWB Advertising & Communications. "We studied each presidential candidate on the five values that define trust, or what we called the five 'C's of trust: competence, consistency, connection, candor and concern. While President Obama led Romney in all values dimensions, the most significant finding was that both candidates failed to meet public expectations for delivering trust, suggesting that both have much work to do to build voter trust."

The Presidential TrustPulse survey findings include:

  • The public's expectation of trustworthiness is much higher than what both candidates earned.
    • Voters rate the importance of competence at 4.69 out of 5.0. The voters rate the candidates' delivery of competence at only 2.99 for Romney and 3.04 for Obama.
    • Voters expectation for candor at 4.67, while Romney was only given a 2.77 rating and Obama a 3.08.
    • The discrepancy between the voters' expectations and the candidates' delivery of concern, consistency and connection were similar but not as wide as the above mentioned examples.  
  • President Obama edged out Governor Romney in overall trust ratings and had higher average ratings on all 24 dimensions.
    • Men rate Obama and Romney equally on overall trust measures. Women significantly rate Obama higher.
    • Women rate Romney across all 24 dimensions of trust as neutral or below.
    • Romney is comparable to Obama in the dimension of competence.
  • Significant predictors of trust for Governor Romney are concern, candor, and consistency. Highest predictor of trust for Romney is concern -- demonstrating care for voters (independent voter rating of 2.8 out of 5.0).
  • Significant predictors of trust for President Obama are candor, concern, competence, and consistency. Highest predictor of trust for Obama is candor -- demonstrating truthfulness and honesty (independent voter rating of 3 out of 5.0).
  • President Obama's ratings are highest among young, female, black and Democratic voters. Governor Romney ratings are highest among older, male, white and Republican voters.

The Values Institute Presidential TrustPulse survey was conducted in partnership with California State University, Fullerton, College of Communications, and Mark Wu, Ph.D., associate professor of communications, Department of Communications.

"Together with The Values Institute, we identified 24 dimensions for the TrustPulse survey that characterize the five values that determine the trustworthiness of the presidential candidates. Survey respondents were asked to rate the candidates on a 1 to 5 scale on dimensions such as: the candidate is highly competent and has a good track record; the candidate is able to provide what the country needs; I know a lot about the candidate and his values; and the candidate stands behind his commitments," explained Wu.

The Values Institute's work also includes sponsorship of the annual Most Trustworthy Brands of Orange County and the O.C. Trust Summit, both in their third year, and the America's Most Trustworthy Brands survey in partnership with Entrepreneur magazine.

Editor's Note: For a copy of the Presidential TrustPulse survey data and summary of findings, please contact Sung Choi at (714) 881-2345 or

About The Values Institute at DGWB
The Values Institute at DGWB is a social science research entity housed at Southern California's DGWB Advertising & Communications. The Values Institute grew out of the agency's more than two decades of work helping Fortune 500 clients and nonprofits build long-term relationships with their constituents based on shared values and socially responsible behavior. Founded by DGWB President Mike Weisman, the Institute is led by an advisory board of leaders at academic, nonprofit and for-profit organizations involved in values-based marketing and social entrepreneurialism. The Values Institute is in partnership with the California State University, Fullerton, College of Communications, to foster learning and to promote the principles of valued-based communications. For information, contact Mike Weisman directly at (714) 881-2300.

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