The Polls Are In: Neither Candidate Should Be Bragging About Their Temperament

09/30/2016 01:34 pm ET

Clinton and Trump pale in comparison to the ideal candidate

Monday night Donald Trump announced to 84 million viewers that he had a better temperament than Hillary Clinton. In return, Hillary Clinton laughed. For a presidential candidate, temperament is what makes them look presidential. Each candidate thinks they have that presidential quality, the emotional intelligence, to get them elected. But what do the voters think?

At Multi-Health Systems Inc. (MHS), we’ve conducted a poll to find out how emotional intelligence fits into American politics. We started out looking at which emotional intelligence characteristics U.S. voters value in presidential candidates. Our first survey included 1,018 U.S. voters fairly evenly split into self-reported Republicans, Democrats and Independents. They were asked to rate, from 1 to 5, the importance of each of 15 emotional intelligence skills in their ideal president. The skills measured are adapted from the Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0 (EQ-i 2.0®), the world’s most widely used measure of emotional intelligence.

We found that the top emotional skill of the ideal president, based on all voters, is stress tolerance. The ideal U.S. President is someone who manages stress well and does not crack under pressure. Voters will be looking at how the candidates handle the pressure of the election campaign, including the next two debates. It will be especially important to look, feel and act cool and under control. Some might refer to this as “looking Presidential.” Donald Trump referred to this as Temperament.

Ideal President EQ Profile From Total Sample (1018)
Multi-Health Systems Inc. (MHS)
Ideal President EQ Profile From Total Sample (1018)

How Voters See Clinton and Trump

We then surveyed a second group of 1,109 voters to find out how would rate the emotional intelligence of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

What we found is that neither candidate reaches the ideal President in terms of their emotional intelligence scores. Although Clinton clearly outscores Trump in Stress Tolerance, she’s still significantly below the ideal candidate.

Emotional Intelligence Ratings of Clinton and Trump Compared to Ideal President
Multi-Health Systems Inc. (MHS)
Emotional Intelligence Ratings of Clinton and Trump Compared to Ideal President

What Really Matters For President?

As we’ve seen, the ideal candidate scores highest in Stress Tolerance. It would seem that both candidates need to demonstrate increased competence in this area, as they are far below the ideal President rating.

To improve these scores, both candidates need to show that they can manage stress better, not get overwhelmed by issues – large or small. Trump will need to show that he doesn’t get ruffled over irrelevant minor slights. Clinton will need to show that she can navigate press conferences with confidence, not getting thrown off message.

And as for Trump’s assertion that his temperament is clearly stronger than Clinton’s? America doesn’t seem to agree.

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