Would you travel cross-country in a car with Donald Trump?
One in four Americans would say yes, according to a recent survey.
The Travelzoo survey of 1,200 adults found that out of all the 2016 presidential candidates, Mr. Trump was the most desired as a potential road trip partner, travel buddy on a European vacation, or dinner companion.
When asked which presidential candidate they would most like to sit next to on an airplane, 25 percent of people chose Trump, giving the billionaire a one percentage point victory over Hillary Clinton.
But in his typical polarizing fashion, Trump also dominated in the category of “Which presidential candidate would you NOT like to sit next to on an airplane,” earning 34 percent of the votes.
Love him or hate him, Trump and his unfiltered remarks continue to dominate both the headlines and the polls. The latest NBC News poll shows Trump still in the lead with 23 percent of Republican primary voters, even after his insult-driven feud with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly following the first GOP debate on Thursday.
Some suggest that Trump’s followers like him because of his brash and outspoken personality, not despite it.
“It’s clear that the key to his appeal is not his policy positions, which are all over the map,” writes Robert Tracinski for The Federalist. “No, it’s all about his personality, and the paradox is that the more unpleasant his personality is revealed to be, the greater his appeal to his core group of supporters.”
But just how important is personality when it comes to electing a leader?
Far more important than it used to be, thanks to the invention of radio, television, and social media.
According to Dean Simonton, a psychologist who studies presidential personality, most of the presidents from America’s early history, including George Washington, have been analyzed as having only average or below average levels of charisma.
"Charisma was really not very useful in the early presidencies," Dr. Simonton told NPR. "There [weren't] that many opportunities to deliver big speeches, and most of the major decisions were done behind closed doors.”
This changed as radios became a household staple during the era of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and politicians became more accessible to average citizens. Suddenly, policy just wasn’t enough to win over voters.
But does an outspoken personality really indicate how good of a president somebody will be?
A bold, charismatic personality is often associated with more legislative victories, Simonton says. But "there's nothing about being a charismatic president that makes you more effective as a problem solver. All that charisma does is enable you to influence people.”
With this in mind, some people are calling for a greater focus on Trump’s policies, rather than the outlandish statements and ad hominem put-downs that have apparently resulted in one in four Americans wanting to eat dinner with him.
“At this point we know a lot about Trump the man,” writes Dean Obeidallah in an op-ed for CNN. “Isn’t it time the media pivot from focusing on Trump's personality to Trump's policies?”