The Ideal Candidate: A Study of the Desired Attributes of the Public and the Media Across Two Presidential Campaigns

Judith S. Trent, Paul A. Mongeau, Jimmie D. Trent, Kathleen E. Kendall, Ronald B. Cushing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


The view of image as a transaction between what a candidate does and the evaluative response that voters have to it creates at least three critical questions as yet unanswered in the literature of political communication. First, although the power of the media to affect the success or failure of political campaigns and candidates has been demonstrated by researchers and is popularly believed, do the views of individual media members regarding the qualities necessary for presidential candidates differ significantly from those of the electorate? Second, although voters share many beliefs about the personal qualities that presidential candidates ought to possess, do these attributes vary from presidential election to election? Finally, although voter assessment of a candidate’s image is a major determinant of voter behavior and voters have a mental picture of an ideal candidate that they use to evaluate actual candidates, do the evaluative dimensions differ by party affiliation? The answers to these questions were determined from the results of a survey of 236 professional journalists covering and 444 voting citizens attending presidential rallies in New Hampshire in 1988 and 1992.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-239
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1993
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)

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