Trump vs. Hillary: Could Their Personalities Predict Who Wins?

Posted on July 31, 2016 by Nate Regier / 1 comments
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Of course not! Yet, a look at their personalities helps us understand two important phenomena in this unusual election matchup.

  1. Why Trump continues to gain support despite his lack of objective qualifications to be president.
  2. Why attacks on Trump, especially by Democrats, only seem to help him.

This article by Benjy Boxer explains the impact of income inequality and Relative Comparison Theory (RCT) on Trump’s popularity. Essentially, people are much less impacted by the absolute value of their income or resources, and much more impacted by comparison with others. It’s just a fancy phrase for “keeping up with the Jones’s.” The increasing gap in wealth between the rich and poor, coupled with a tendency to judge my situation on how I compare to others, makes for a pretty grim picture for some portions of the population. The hardest hit are white, non-college educated Americans.

Let’s take a look at how Trump and Clinton’s personalities naturally predispose them to dealing with this situation. This is based on the groundbreaking work of Dr. Taibi Kahler, who developed the Process Communication Model (PCM) and discovered the behavioral and communication correlates for each of six personality types.

Trump best fits the Promoter personality type.

He is adaptable, persuasive and charming. He is fully action-oriented and nimble on his feet. Most importantly, he is externally motivated by incidence. Incidence is the thrill of the chase, challenge, competition, and excitement. Negotiation is the Promoter’s way of life.

Being externally motivated, Promoters don’t spend a lot of time worrying about plans, goals or vision. They don’t turn inward to find their compass; they turn outward, looking around them for what’s next, what’s happening, what’s going down, where the action is.

Here are a few of Trump’s behavioral patterns that are likely influenced by his personality. The all capitalize on RTC.

  • Infatuation with polls
  • Encouraging his followers to compare themselves to others
  • Focusing on how bad things are when you look around
  • Prefers negotiation
  • Encouraging followers to “look to me to save you”
  • Quickly turning the tables on anyone who challenges or questions him. The strategy goes like this, “If you try to make me look bad, I will make you look worse so I now look good by comparison.”

Hillary best fits a Thinker personality type.

Responsible, logical, organized, hard-working and diligent. Thinkers are goal-driven and work strategically to solve problems. They constantly gather information and pride themselves on logical and analytical decision-making. Practical and pragmatic, Thinkers are internally motivated by their goals and the time frames associated with those goals. They spend a lot of time learning, thinking, and planning about how they will pursue their goals.

Hillary’s tendencies that are likely influenced by  her personality

  • Focus on achievements, i.e. goals met
  • Uses data to quantify her qualifications
  • Emphasizes internal qualities like compassion, compromise, collaboration, experience, duty
  • Prefers collaboration and compromise
  • Encourages personal qualities as drivers of change, e.g. work ethic, love of country
  • When challenged, resorts to logical arguments. The strategy goes like this, “If you question my intelligence or qualifications, I will share more and more data to prove you wrong.”

In the general American population, research shows that approximately 35% are externally motivated, 65% are internally motivated. Some research on personality also suggests that certain externally motivated personality types are more likely to be incarcerated and live in poverty.

My prediction is that neither candidate can win the election without appealing to people who are motivated differently from themselves. However, here’s a few things each one can do to expand their base and maybe even get under the other’s skin.

Election Strategies


  • Spend less time questioning Trump’s experience and qualifications, more time comparing him to people who are inexperienced, unqualified, or dangerous. Use more metaphors and less facts.
  • Spend less time exposing his character flaws, and more time bringing attention to his behavioral oddities. Cain used this strategy with the “Believe me.” jokes.
  • Leverage Relative Comparison Theory by offering people different points of comparison that they can relate to, e.g. “You have a much bigger TV than you did 8 years ago.”
  • Keep pushing the free/low-cost education initiative and show how it can help low-income, non-college educated white Americans keep up with the Jones’s.


  • Keep questioning Hillary’s experience and qualifications.
  • Question her charisma and lack of passion and emotion.
  • Spend less time promising to rescue people, start showing them how he will partner with them to achieve the American dream.
  • Pick one of Hillary’s main agendas and put forth an even better proposal, i.e. “I’ll see your education reform and raise you 10.”

Who knows what will happen. For a person who loves to watch behavior and analyze personality, there are no dull moments!

If this way of looking at behavior and communication intrigues you, ask us about the Process Communication Model (PCM), a complete leadership communication training program based on Dr. Kahler’s groundbreaking work. Next Element is a PCM distributor for the United States. We teach and coach PCM, and train, certify, and support PCM trainers across the country.

Copyright 2016, Next Element Consulting, LLC

CWC + Discussion GuideGet our latest book Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading With Compassionate Accountability. This book is the foundation for our Leading Out of Drama program, a comprehensive system for building cultures of compassionate accountability.

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Photo of Hetty Jansen-Verhagen
Hetty Jansen-Verhagen
Posted on August 5, 2016

Thank you Nate. These for me are valuable insights in the election strategies which are based on the personalities of both Trump and Clinton. In this matter I would like to put forward to you and the readers of your blog the article of Mr. George Lakoff, Professor at Berkeley University, in which he explains how differences in moral hierarchy are due to differences in perception and motivation and how that influences the Presidential Campaign.

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