Bernie Sanders

The Personality Profile of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

May 24, 2019

A preliminary psychological analysis of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders by Andrew Saunders, Thomas Lenard, Erik Balder, Aaron Montpetit, and Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, revealed that Sen. Sanders’s primary personality patterns are Dominant/asserting and Dauntless/adventurous, complemented by secondary Ambitious/confident and Contentious/resolute features. In summary, Sanders may be characterized as a deliberative nonconformist.

Presidential Electability Index range: 16-23

The Personality Profile of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders


Click on image for larger view

Abstract

The poster presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders — a contender for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election — from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon. Information concerning Sanders was collected from biographical sources and media reports and synthesized into a personality profile using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with DSM–III–R, DSM–IV, and DSM–5.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Sanders’s primary personality patterns were found to be Dominant/asserting and Dauntless/adventurous, complemented by secondary Ambitious/confident and Contentious/resolute features.

In essence, Sanders may be characterized as a deliberative nonconformist — resolute, fearless, and self-confident, with a strong oppositional streak.

Erik Balder and Aaron Montpetit present their poster (with Andrew Saunders, Thomas Lenard, and Isaias Guzman), “The Personality Profile of 2020 U.S. Presidential Contender Bernie Sanders,” at Scholarship Day, College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN, April 25, 2019.


March 9, 2020 update: Research paper

The Political Personality of 2020 Democratic Presidential Contender Bernie Sanders. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, March 2020. Abstract and link for full-text (24 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/126/

Abstract

Bernie Sanders’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant/asserting, complemented by secondary Dauntless/adventurous and Ambitious/confident patterns and infused with a Contentious/resolute tendency.

Based on his overall personality configuration, Sanders may be characterized as a deliberative nonconformist: tough, strong-willed, and outspoken; fearless, daring, and attracted to challenge; self-confident, persuasive, and competitive; and resolute, with a strong oppositional streak.

As president, leaders with Sanders’s personality profile can be expected be deliberative but low on interpersonality (more aloof than interactive), temperamentally active–negative, and more skilled in mobilizing supporters than in consummating policy objectives.

Presidential Electability Index range: 16-23


March 5, 2020 update: Related analysis

Biden “Back from the Dead” — Presidential Electability Index
Predicted Super Tuesday Election Results

The 2020 U.S. presidential election-outcome forecast issued by the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics on July 8, 2019, anticipated the surprising Super Tuesday Democratic primary results, with a surging Joe Biden defying polls and political pundits to seize the lead from an ascendant Bernie Sanders in the battle for the Democratic nomination for president.

The Presidential Electability Index (PEI), which has accurately predicted — before Super Tuesday — the outcome of every presidential election since 1996, was developed to forecast general election outcomes; however, the PEI heuristic model (which employs publicly perceived candidate personality traits as the predictor variable) proved to be exceptionally robust in projecting Biden’s unexpected Super Tuesday surge.

As conceptualized by the Personal Electability Index (PEI) forecasting model, Democratic contenders studied in the 2020 presidential election cycle and still in the race rank as follows in terms of predicted political impact as a general election candidate:

1. Joe Biden
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 22-33 (27.5 ±5.5)

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

3. Elizabeth Warren
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 6-8 (7 ±1)

Executive summary

The Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics’ PEI model ranks Biden as more competitive than Sanders in a hypothetical general election matchup against Donald Trump.

Evidently — as suggested by the Super Tuesday Democratic primary results — Biden’s personal characteristics also had a stronger impact on Democratic primary voters than did Sanders’s.

Topical research reports

The Political Personality of Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, December 2019. Abstract and link for full-text (21 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/122/

The Political Personality of 2020 Democratic Presidential Contender Bernie Sanders. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, March 2020. Abstract and link for full-text (24 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/psychology_pubs/126/

More »


Related interest: Formal announcement of candidacy

Bernie Sanders announces 2020 presidential run (Sydney Ember, New York Times, Feb. 19, 2019) — Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent and 2016 Democratic primary runner-up whose populist agenda has helped push the party to the left, embarked on Tuesday on a second run for president, in a bid that will test whether he retains his anti-establishment appeal or loses ground to newer faces who have adopted many of his ideas. …


Notable media reports


Sabato’s Crystal Ball hypothetical Sanders vs. Trump Electoral College ratings (Feb. 27, 2020)

Read analysis by Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman


55 Things you need to know about Bernie Sanders (By Zack Stanton, Jordan Muller, and Michael Kruse, Feb. 28, 2020) — What do voters need to know about the ultimate outsider turned frontrunning presidential candidate?


How it all came apart for Bernie Sanders (Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, New York Times, March 21, 2020) — Perhaps the most significant factor, as with every presidential campaign, was the candidate himself, and the stubborn ideological and stylistic consistency that both endeared Mr. Sanders to his supporters and limited his ability to build a majority coalition larger than his own progressive movement. … In the weeks before Super Tuesday, Mr. Sanders had indeed refused to yield to critics who were searching for gestures of accommodation. …

The Sanders campaign appeared on the brink of a commanding lead in the Democratic race. But a series of fateful decisions and internal divisions left him ill positioned to win over skeptical Democrats and all but vanquished. (Photo credit: Erin Schaff / The New York Times)


Related reports

The Personality Profile of 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders (April 19, 2016)

Catherine Lundstrom (left) and Christian Grande (right) presented “The Political Personality of 2016 Presidential Contender Bernie Sanders” (by Catherine Lundstrom, Hanae Nakamoto, Jacob Wankel, Christian Grande, Joe Trenzeluk, and Atarah Pinder) at Scholarship and Creativity Day, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, April 21, 2016.

Psychological Profiles of 2020 U.S. Presidential Election Democratic Candidates (April 25, 2019)

Photo composite: The New York Times

Which Democratic Presidential Candidate Is Most ‘Electable’? (May 6, 2019)

Joe Biden (Monmouth NH net favorability: +65)
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 16-29 (22.5 ±6.5) / Revised Dec. 2019: 22-33 (27.5 ±5.5)

Kamala Harris (Monmouth NH net favorability: +50)
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 13-27 (20 ±7)

Bernie Sanders (Monmouth NH net favorability: +54)
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 16-23 (19.5 ±3.5)

Amy Klobuchar (Monmouth NH net favorability: +33)
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 13-23 (18 ±5)

Beto O’Rourke (Monmouth NH net favorability: +29)
Presidential Electability Index
Range: 11-23 (17 ±6)

Projecting the Winner of the 2020 Presidential Election: The Personal Electability Index (July 8, 2019)

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) / Revised Dec. 2019: 22-33 (27.5 ±5.5)

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: 6-8 (7 ±1)