2020 Election — USPP Media Tipsheet

The purpose of the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics Media Tipsheet is threefold. First, it offers political reporters looking for a fresh story angle a sometimes unique, often unconventional perspective on politics. Second, it serves as a repository for research-based political analysis. Analyses and predictions in the Tipsheet are, in effect, research hypotheses to be tested prospectively against actual event outcomes, which in turn serve to refine the guiding theory of personality and leadership that informed the analysis and prediction in the first place. Third, the Tipsheet aims to provide voters, reporters, and policymakers with politically unbiased, nonpartisan insights into aspects of political leaders’ and candidates’ personal character likely to impinge on their public lives, policy preferences, decisionmaking, and leadership prospects.


July 8, 2019

Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics forecasts 2020 U.S. presidential election result

The Personal Electability Index (PEI) developed at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics projects that none of the seven Democratic contenders assessed by the USPP will be able to defeat Donald Trump.

As conceptualized by the PEI forecasting model, candidates studied in the 2020 presidential election cycle rank as follows in terms of predicted political impact as a general election candidate:

Donald Trump
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 65-77 (71 ±6); dysfunctionality adjusted 45

Joe Biden
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 16-29 (22.5 ±6.5)

Kamala Harris
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 13-27 (20 ±7)

Bernie Sanders
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 16-23 (19.5 ±3.5)

Amy Klobuchar
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 13-23 (18 ±5)

Beto O’Rourke
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 11-23 (17 ±6)

Pete Buttigieg
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 10-18 (14 ±4)

Elizabeth Warren
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 11-15 (13 ±2)

The PEI (derived from Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria scale scores) has accurately predicted, before Super Tuesday, the outcome of every presidential election since 1996.

PEI Scores for Democratic and Republican Nominees, 1996-2016

For historical context, here are the personality-based electability scores for all major-party nominees since 1996, published before Super Tuesday in presidential election years, with the successful candidate listed first:


May 6, 2019

Which Democratic presidential candidate is ‘electable’ now?

CNN’s “The Point with Chris Cillizza” reports:

The entrance of former VP Joe Biden into the 2020 field has altered the race’s dynamics in lots of ways but none more notable than this: Electability is now front and center.

Biden’s entire candidacy is based on the idea that (a) beating Donald Trump is all that matters and (b) he is by far best positioned to do so.

(Recent CNN polling suggests former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke is actually the strongest general election candidate against Trump right now. O’Rourke led Trump by 10 while Biden held a 6-point edge in a head-to-head match up with Trump.) …

USPP analysis

In contrast to the above analysis by CNN’s “The Point,” the Unit for the Study of Personality’s Presidential Electability Index (PEI), which has accurately predicted — before Super Tuesday — the outcome of every presidential election since 1996, suggests that Joe Biden will be a stronger candidate than Beto O’Rourke in a general election matchup with Donald Trump.

The PEI heuristic model employs candidate personality traits, as publicly perceived, to predict which contender will resonate most favorably with independent and unaffiliated voters who base their voting choice primarily on a candidate’s personal qualities as publicly displayed rather than on party-political affiliation or allegiance.

Below are the PEI scores for Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and Beto O’Rourke, based on studies conducted at the USPP.

Donald Trump
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 37-45

Joe Biden
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 16-29

Beto O’Rourke
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 11-23