Abstract: Drawing from the field of management studies, we explore how a sample of voters in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom use a leader character framework to judge political leadership. We ask, how do voters actually assess the character of their current leaders? And, in light of the populist zeitgeist, do people who hold a populist attitude differ markedly in how they judge the character of political leaders? Our results show that voters generally consider character important. However, voters who lean toward populism believe character matters less in political leadership than individuals who scored low on the populism indicator. This durable difference merits more exploration in a political context marked by populism. Our findings about the factors that influence vote choice contribute to this conversation and to extant research that reports that some voters pay greater attention to leader characteristics than do others.
Keywords: Canada; leaders; leadership; politics; populism; United Kingdom; United States