Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Aug 12th, 2020

Psychological Profile Presented at ISPP 2020 Annual Meeting

U.S. President Donald J. Trump

Aubrey Immelman presents his paper, with Anne Marie Griebie, on “The Personality Profile and Leadership Style of U.S. President Donald J. Trump in Office” at the 43rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, July 16, 2020. The meeting, originally scheduled for Berlin, Germany, was conducted in virtual format due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Annie Griebie explains the scoring system used in the assessment of President Donald Trump’s personality as revealed in office.

Research report

The Personality Profile and Leadership Style of U.S. President Donald J. Trump in Office. Paper presented at the 43rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Berlin, Germany, July 14-16, 2020. Abstract and link for full-text (71 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons:

Related presentations

Annie Griebie briefly explains the conceptual framework, methodology, and results of her assessment of President Donald Trump’s personality as revealed in office. (9:39)

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More information » U.S. President Donald J. Trump



Related reports


The Political Personality of 2016 Republican Presidential Nominee Donald J. Trump. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, October 2016 (Paper presented at the 41st Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, San Antonio, TX, July 4-7, 2018). Abstract and link for full-text (31 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons:

The Leadership Style of U.S. President Donald J. Trump. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, January 2017. Abstract and link for full-text (14 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons:

Rumors are swirling on the internet that Kim Jong-un is in a vegetative state or has died as the result of a botched cardiac procedure; however, there has been no confirmation of these reports by official government agencies or reliable sources.

38 North reports:

A train probably belonging to Kim Jong Un has been parked at the Leadership Railway Station servicing his Wonsan compound since at least April 21, according to commercial satellite imagery. The train’s presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health, but it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country’s eastern coast.

April 26, 2020 Update: Dynastic Succession in North Korea

Anna Fifield, Washington Post bureau chief in Beijing and author of The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un provides an informative analysis of the prospects for dynastic succession or continuity of governance in the event of Kim Jong-un’s death.

If Kim turns out to be fine, it would hardly be the first time that reports of the death of a North Korean leader had been greatly exaggerated. Japanese and South Korean newspapers killed off his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, and his father, Kim Jong Il, multiple times in the years before either man actually died.

Kim Jong Un’s premature demise was also reported in 2014, when his disappearance from public view for six weeks sparked talk of death by military coup, heart attack, or excessive cheese consumption. …

What if Kim Jong Un dies? There is no clear successor for him. …

April 28, 2020 Update: Medical Opinion by Kenneth B. Dekleva, M.D.

[Kim Jong Un’s] absence now is of notable concern, given multiple reports about Kim having received some form of cardiac surgery and possibly suffering from subsequent complications. While these reports remain unconfirmed, the security consequences of Kim’s sudden demise or incapacitation could be enormous, given the lack of clarity on what comes next. …

I am Kim’s heart: The health status of Chairman Kim Jong Un
(Kenneth B. Dekleva, 38 North, April 28, 2020)

April 29, 2020 Update: Imagery Shows Train at Kim Jong Un’s Wonsan Compound Again

38 North reports:

Commercial satellite imagery from April 29 shows a train at the leadership train station that services Kim Jong Un’s compound in the coastal city of Wonsan. While a train was first observed at this station on April 21 and again on April 23, it cannot be determined whether it has remained at the station since then. On April 29, the train is situated in the same position as before. However, the engine is no longer parked alongside the south end of the train. Whether the engine car has departed or was simply moved under the station’s canopy is unclear. But in either case, the train does not appear to be prepared for departure.

Image: ©2020 Planet Labs, Inc. via 38 North.

May 1, 2020 Update: Does Kim Jong Un Have a Succession Plan?

Chris Steinitz, Ken Gause, and Elizabeth Yang offer an insightful analysis at 38 North of scenarios for succession and continuity of governance in the event of Kim Jong-un’s demise.

If the leader were merely incapacitated, the immediate, temporary structure would likely be led by a small group of family and close aides, who would make decisions along established lines, maintaining the status quo. This small collective would carry out the day-to-day affairs of the regime, not unlike the group that supported Kim Jong Il after his stroke in 2008.

If Kim Jong Un dies, however, the situation would become much more precarious. An initial leadership group would likely be set up that includes those above, as well as members from the Party, military, and internal security. Whether someone like Kim Yo Jong would sit atop this structure or would assume the role of Supreme Leader is unclear. It is also possible that some male member of the Kim family could be put forth as a figurehead for legitimacy purposes, instead of Kim Yo Jong.

May 2, 2020 Update: Kim Jong Un Resurfaces

The New York Times reports:

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, resurfaced in public view on Friday, the North’s state news media reported Saturday, controverting three weeks of rumors and unconfirmed news reports that he was in grave danger after undergoing heart surgery. …

Mr. Kim, 36, had last appeared publicly on April 11. … Rumors subsequently went into overdrive, claiming that Mr. Kim was “in grave danger,” in a “vegetative state” after botched heart-valve surgery, or in quarantine after contracting Covid-19. Other reports said that China had sent doctors to Pyongyang to save him.

After its initial report on Saturday, the North Korean news agency released photos showing a smiling Mr. Kim applauding, cutting a ribbon, and standing with his hands behind his back at a new fertilizer factory.

Related links on this site

The Leadership Style of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un (June 12, 2018)

North Korea Threat Assessment: The Psychological Profile of Kim Jong-un (April 8, 2013)

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’.


PEI Scores for Democratic and Republican Nominees, 1996-2016

For historical context, here are the personality-based electability scores for all major-party nominees since 1996, published before Super Tuesday in presidential election years, with the successful candidate listed first:


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:

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:



Related reports

The Personality Profile of Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (April 25, 2019)

Click on image for larger view

Joe Biden’s Second Act? 2020 “Ridin’ with Biden” (May 31, 2017)

Projecting the Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election: The Personal Electability Index (Feb. 29, 2016)

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was the only member of the Republican Party to vote with Democratic senators to convict President Donald Trump of abuse of power in a 52-48 not guilty vote after harshly criticizing Trump in his Senate floor speech announcing his intended vote.

Romney asserted that “the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor”; accused him of being “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust” for what he called “a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security, and our fundamental values”; and concluded that “corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office” that he could imagine.

This was not the first time Romney publicly lambasted Trump. In an op-ed published in the Washington Post a year earlier, Romney wrote that Trump had “not risen to the mantle of the office,” adding that a president “should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect.”

Similarly, Romney sharply rebuked the president’s actions outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, saying, “I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president,” implying Trump had “strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders.”

Granted, motives can be complex and difficult to discern, yet Romney’s personality profile offers at least a partial glimpse into his underlying motivation for bucking the GOP party line with his impeachment vote.

A psychological study of Mitt Romney conducted at the Unit for the Study of Politics during Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign revealed that “Romney’s primary personality pattern was … Conscientious/dutiful, complemented by secondary Dominant/asserting, Ambitious/confident, and Accommodating/cooperative features and a minor Retiring/reserved tendency” and characterized him as quintessentially “prudent, proper, dignified, dependable, and more principled than most personality types.”

Regarding his primary personality pattern of conscientiousness, Romney’s political-psychological profile depicts him as a principled person who does his best to uphold conventional rules and standards and to follow regulations closely, with a tendency to be intolerant of deviance and judgmental of those fail to adhere to those norms.

As stated in Romney’s profile, conscientious individuals “tend to follow standards from which they hesitate to deviate, attempt to act in an objective and rational manner, and decide matters in terms of what they believe is right.” They are often religious, and maintaining their integrity “ranks high among their goals” while “voicing moral values gives them a deep sense of satisfaction.”

As Romney asserted in his Senate floor speech:

As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.

In summary, Romney’s personality profile contains the following observations across the matrix of attribute domains comprising his overall personality composite:

  • Expressive behavior: scrupulous in matters of morality and ethics, but may strike others as prudish, moralistic, and condescending. (p. 11)
  • Interpersonal conduct: unbending in his relations with subordinates [which Trump arguably embodies in his capacity as a defendant in an impeachment trial], insisting they adhere to personally established rules and methods. (p. 11)
  • Cognitive style: concerned with matters of propriety and tends to be rigid about regulations and procedures. (p. 11)
  • Mood/temperament: dignified, serious minded, solemn demeanor. (p. 12)
  • Self-image: values aspects of himself that exhibit virtue and moral rectitude. (p. 12)
  • Morphologic organization/ego-defense mechanism: public facade of conformity and propriety may mask an undercurrent of repressed urges toward self-assertion and defiance. (p. 13)

Finally, the section on leadership implications in the report of Romney’s political personality concludes that, in his policy choices, consensus building likely plays a secondary role to the implementation of the “morally correct” policy. (p. 17)

Objective assessment of the psychological motives underlying Romney’s “guilty” impeachment vote dictates that he was simply acting in character and in accordance with his deeply held personal and religious values. However, that determination belies the probability that some of Romney’s Republican Senate colleagues possess a similar personality profile and set of values.

What, then, could account for Romney’s dissenting vote?

One clue may be implicit in Trump’s public humiliation of Romney, whom the president called “a pompous ‘ass’” who had been “fighting me from the beginning, except when he begged me for my endorsement for his Senate run … and when he begged me to be Secretary of State.”

In that regard, it’s notable that Romney’s personality profile is suggestive of an individual more likely to nurse grudges than most. From that perspective, an alternative explanation for Romney’s vote might be that he gave the president a taste of his own kind of quid pro quo.


Cited report

The Political Personality of 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Paper presented by Aubrey Immelman at the 35th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Chicago, July 6–9, 2012. Abstract and link for full-text (35 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons:


Related reports on this site

What Motivates Mitt Romney to Question Donald Trump’s Character? (Jan. 3, 2019)

Romney poster (2013)
Click on image for larger view

Mitt Romney Announces Bid for U.S. Senate in Utah (Feb. 17, 2018)

Embedded video

Mitt Romney for Secretary of State? (Nov. 19, 2016)

Mitt Romney’s Personality Profile (June 2, 2011)

As shown in the pie chart, Romney has a primarily Conscientious-dutiful personality, complemented by secondary Dominant-asserting, Ambitious-confident, and Accommodating-cooperative features and a minor Retiring-reserved tendency.

Mitt Romney’s Leadership Style (Sept. 3, 2012)

Research assistants Amanda Nusbaum and Feiran Chen presented their research on “The Personality Profile of 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney” at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., July 30, 2012.

Why Mitt Romney Won’t Be President — In Theory (Oct. 29, 2012)

Aubrey Immelman and Andrew Obritsch in Chicago at the annual scientific meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology to present their research on Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, July 2012.

Feb 4th, 2020

CNN reports:

There’s no result yet from last night’s all-important, first-in-the-nation, election season-opening Iowa caucuses. … A vote-reporting debacle has delayed results in the contest, leaving candidates and voters furious and precincts scrambling to come up with answers. Officials from two Democratic campaigns say they were told an app used to tabulate the votes crashed, and the Iowa Democratic Party said it found inconsistencies in some vote sets.

In the absence of official election results 12 hours after the caucuses, I examined the Google Analytics report of visits to the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics pages for Democratic presidential contenders in the 7 days up to and including the Iowa caucuses (Jan. 28–Feb. 3, 2020).

            Note: Biden’s page (/joe-biden) ranked 20th in USPP page visits

Descriptive analytics for Iowa caucus contenders

1.  Bernie Sanders

      220 page visits (52.1%)
      Note: 170 (2016 page) plus 50 (2020 page)

2.  Elizabeth Warren

      74 page visits (17.5%)

3.  Pete Buttigieg

      56 page visits (13.3%)

4.  Amy Klobuchar

      50 page visits (11.9%)

5.  Joe Biden

      22 page visits (5.2%)


Update: February 7, 2020

Pete Buttigieg keeps narrow lead in Iowa caucuses with 100% of precincts reporting (Dan Merica, Jeff Zeleny, and Adam Levy, CNN, Feb. 6, 2020) — Pete Buttigieg holds a slim lead over Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses with the Iowa Democratic Party announcing on Thursday night [Feb. 6] that 100% of precincts are reporting. The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor leads the Vermont senator by one-tenth of one percentage point in the all-important state delegate equivalent count. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar are trailing behind Buttigieg and Sanders. The Democratic candidates have until 1 p.m. ET/12 p.m. CT on Friday to file a request for a recanvass or a recount. If there are no challenges by that time, CNN plans to report a winner. … Full report

How will President Trump respond to Iranian retaliation for the killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani?

The two guiding principles of behavioral forecasting based on psychological profiling are:

  1. Personality directs — and therefore predicts — behavior.
  2. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Based on (1) empirical studies of Donald Trump’s personality profile and leadership style conducted at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics and (2) rational-intuitive inference derived from President Trump’s observed behavior in office, the following general expectancies present themselves with reference to Trump’s likely response to Iran’s anticipated retaliation for the targeted killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Key personality traits driving President Trump’s behavior

Donald Trump is bold, self-assured, and levelheaded under pressure and in the face of adversity; is a dramatic attention‑getter more inclined to precipitous action than to indecision; enjoys the power to take charge, evoke respect, and seeing that the job gets done; is tough, competitive, and unsentimental; and is willing to flout tradition, acting autonomously in accordance with his personal goals and preferences.

Relevant indicators from President Trump’s past behavior

Donald Trump prides himself on “promises made, promises kept” and completing projects on- or ahead of schedule; is motivated to extricate the United States from “endless wars”; is driven to project military power to buttress U.S. prestige and national security; and is generally explicit in stating his intent.

General expectancies for President Trump’s response to Iranian reprisal

  • President Trump is highly unlikely to order a full-scale war such as George H.W. Bush’s Gulf War (1991) or George W. Bush’s invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003).
  • President Trump is unlikely to escalate the current standoff with Iran in the absence of revenge operations by the Iranian regime or its proxies.
  • President Trump is likely to respond proportionately to Iranian retaliation outside the United States, provided no U.S. nationals are harmed (but may incrementally escalate counterattacks if revenge attacks persist).
  • President Trump is likely to respond disproportionately to Iranian retaliation outside the United States if U.S. nationals are killed or injured.
  • President Trump is likely to respond with overwhelming force to attacks by Iran or its proxies within the United States or its territories.


Update: January 9, 2020

Trump backs away from further military conflict with Iran (Peter Baker, New York Times, Jan. 8, 2020) — President Trump backed away from further military action against Iran and called for renewed diplomacy on Wednesday as the bristling confrontation of the past six days eased in the aftermath of an Iranian missile strike that seemed intended to save face rather than inflict casualties. … The president’s statement came hours after Iran’s government indicated that it had “concluded proportionate measures” avenging the killing of the commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, with the launch of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing American troops. The missiles did not result in any American or Iraqi deaths, an outcome interpreted by some analysts as a deliberate attempt by Iran to claim it had responded, but without provoking Mr. Trump. …

On December 14 the New York Times reported:

A second test [at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station] of what appeared to be an advanced missile engine, part of what North Korea said on Saturday was part of a “reliable strategic nuclear deterrent,” left little doubt that the country is moving quickly toward resuming the program that led to a crisis with Washington two years ago. … It was the second such test in a week, and came after weeks of increasingly vocal attempts to press the United States into further talks and new concessions. … American analysts and intelligence experts said they believe the ground test … was intended as a signal that the country could soon resume testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Analysts have speculated an ICBM test might occur after the end of December, a deadline Kim Jong-un imposed for the U.S. to resume negotiations and provide sanctions relief.

In its report, the New York Times quotes Pak Jong-chon, chief of the general staff of the North Korean People’s Army, as saying: “We should be ready to cope with political and military provocations of the hostile forces, and be familiar with both dialogue and confrontation” and that the U.S. and its allies would “spend the year-end in peace only when they hold off any words and deeds rattling us” — signaling that amid stalled diplomacy “the voice of North Korea’s hard-line military was rising,” according to Cheong Seong-chang, vice president of research planning at South Korea’s Sejong Institute.

In conjunction with the North Korean foreign ministry’s veiled threat in early December that North Korea was preparing a surprise “Christmas gift” for the United States, the latest rhetoric emanating from the DPRK sounds ominous.

Left: Image of King Tongmyong from a North Korean book. Right: Image of Kim Jong-un, courtesy of KCNA. (Photo composite by Jean Lee / The Wilson Center)


Analysis: How should the U.S. respond?

  1. In planning its response, the U.S. should exercise caution in ascertaining the personal policy preferences of Kim Jong-un and distinguishing between that and the intent of hardliners in the DPRK military establishment.
  2. To the extent that Kim is losing ground in his grip on power vis-à-vis the top military leadership, the U.S. could strengthen Kim’s hand by giving due consideration to the resumption of personal diplomacy between the two nations’ leaders as a complement to the continuation of working-level talks.
  3. It would be prudent to delay any significant response or intervention until after evaluating the tone, and learning more about the details, of Kim’s policy options in his annual New Year’s Day speech.
  4. In the context of the central role of personal diplomacy in the US-DPRK nuclear negotiations, consider that with the specter of impeachment and the uncertainty of Donald Trump’s reelection as president, Kim might be reluctant to strike a deal at the present juncture, preferring to adopt a wait-and-see attitude; thus, it would be prudent to exercise patience and avoid any abrupt policy reversals.


One-month follow-up — January 31, 2020

The Many Faces of Chairman Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong-un and wife Ri Sol-ju ride a white horse on Mt. Paektu (Photo: KCNA)

Commentary by Kenneth B. Dekleva, M.D.

January 30, 2020


At the recent December 2019 plenum, Chairman Kim, rather than giving his traditional New Year’s speech, outlined a different strategy toward the US moving forward in 2020. … Kim’s strategic shift portends not only political, military and diplomatic changes, but also offers clues as to his evolving leadership style, intentions and flexibility as he begins his ninth year in power. …

Chairman Kim has shown restraint and patience. He has not tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or resumed nuclear testing—nor is he likely to do so, although a public “display” of a new ICBM or ballistic missile submarine is not out of the question.

Rather, Kim has carefully allowed his subordinates to give lip service to a “Christmas gift,” and he has substituted strategic ambiguity for his previously demonstrated (during 2018) nuclear opacity. Doing so highlights his strategic sensibility, patience and evolving maturity as a leader. Importantly, while disappointed (and likely humiliated) by his failure to achieve sanctions relief at the 2019 Hanoi Summit with US President Donald Trump, Chairman Kim has refrained from attacking the president personally. …

Kim remains an aspirational leader, even as the DPRK’s diplomacy is likely to shift—given the replacement of Ri Yong Ho and appointment of Ri Son Gwon (a military hardliner and protégé of Kim Yong Chol) as foreign minister—to a more muscular, hard-nosed version. And Kim, rather than acting impulsively to provoke an unpredictable President Trump, has surely taken measure of America’s current impeachment drama, the upcoming American presidential election, and Trump’s recent show of resolve with respect to the killing of Iran’s Quds Force leader General Soleimani, as well as the signing of the China trade deal. Kim is patiently waiting—with a tendency to avoid unnecessary political risks—knowing that, if Trump were to serve another four years, time is on his and the DPRK’s side. …

Full commentary


Related media reports

North Korea promises a Christmas surprise. Here are the options
(Geoff Brumfiel, NPR, Dec. 23, 2019)

Experts worry that North Korea may be about to test an advanced solid-fuel missile. (Photo: Wong Maye-E / AP via NPR)

U.S. on high alert for possible ‘Christmas gift’ missile from North Korea
(Bradford Betz, Fox News, Dec. 23, 2019)

What is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s ‘Christmas gift’ for Donald Trump? (Erin Handley, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Dec. 24, 2019)

Related research reports

The Leadership Style of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, Collegeville and St. Joseph, Minn., June 10, 2018. Abstract and link for full-text (17 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons:


The Personality Profile of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. Working paper, Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, Collegeville and St. Joseph, Minn., April 1, 2018. Abstract and link for full-text (32 pages; PDF) download at Digital Commons:

Related links on this site

The Leadership Style of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un (June 12, 2018)

Photo credit: Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

North Korea Threat Assessment: The Psychological Profile of Kim Jong-un (April 8, 2013)

Click on image for larger view

Related interest

Kim Jong-un’s 2019 New Year’s Message

Oct 27th, 2019

President Trump: ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is Dead

By Maegan Vazquez, Zachary Cohen, and Kevin Liptak

October 27, 2019


President Donald Trump declared Sunday morning that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was dead after a US military raid in northwest Syria over the weekend. …

The President said a US special operations forces mission went after the ISIS leader and there were no US deaths during the operation. …

The death of al-Baghdadi marks the culmination of a years-long hunt to find one of the most wanted terrorists in the world and the man who declared a so-called Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria in 2014. …

Trump said al-Baghdadi was chased to the end of a dead-end tunnel by dogs, taking three children with him. At the end of the tunnel, he detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and the children. …

“He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place,” Trump said. …

Trump told reporters al-Baghdadi was under surveillance for a couple of weeks and that two to three planned missions were scrapped before the successful one was launched. …

[Secretary of Defense Mark] Esper told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning that the President approved the raid “late last week” after being presented with different options. …

Esper described the death of the ISIS leader as a “devastating blow” to ISIS. “This is not just their leader, it’s their founder. He was an inspirational leader in many ways,” Esper told Tapper. …

Full story

The Psychology of Terrorists (Pt. 2): The Messiah Complex

How might the personalities of bin Laden and al-Baghdadi be similar?

By Stephen A. Diamond, PhD
Psychology Today
September 26, 2014


What motivates terrorist leaders like Osama Bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed head of ISIS? … [L]ike bin Laden, al-Baghdadi seems to exhibit some sort of messiah complex. He reportedly sees himself as the successor to Muhammed, the founder of Islam. To understand better the psychology of someone like al-Baghdadi, about whom very little personal information is currently available, we might do well to look at what we knew and thought we knew about his late predecessor, Osama bin Laden. Here is a previous piece posted on the day the death of bin Laden was announced to the world by President Obama back in 2011:

Obviously, analyzing or profiling the personality of such a shadowy, enigmatic and elusive figure as Osama bin Laden is a difficult task. Nevertheless, in a paper presented at the 25th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology in 2002, Dr. Aubrey Immelman, associate professor of psychology at Minnesota’s St. John’s University, did just that.

Plugging bin Laden’s known biographical data into a personality profile using the second edition of the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), Immelman concluded that “Bin Laden’s blend of Ambitious and Dauntless personality patterns suggests the presence of Millon’s ‘unprincipled narcissist’ syndrome. This composite character complex combines the narcissist’s arrogant sense of self-worth, exploitative indifference to the welfare of others, and grandiose expectation of special recognition with the antisocial personality’s self-aggrandizement, deficient social conscience, and disregard for the rights of others.”

Elsewhere, Immelman diagnosed Osama bin Laden — as did psychiatrist Dr. Jerrold Post, the renowned CIA political profiler — a “malignant narcissist”: a term based on psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg’s conception of malignant narcissism, the core components of which are pathological narcissism, antisocial features, paranoid traits, and destructive aggression. …

Yet surprisingly, in the final analysis, Dr. Immelman found that a “major implication of the study is that bin Laden does not fit the profile of the highly conscientious, closed-minded religious fundamentalist, nor that of the religious martyr who combines these qualities with devout, self-sacrificing features; rather, it suggests that bin Laden is adept at exploiting Islamic fundamentalism in the service of his own ambition and personal dreams of glory.”

While I agree that Immelman’s diagnoses of malignant or unprincipled narcissist may be accurate, and that Osama’s behavior, at least at first, was primarily self-serving, I strongly doubt the latter part of his commentary about bin Laden not being a closed-minded religious fundamentalist or devout, self-sacrificing martyr. Indeed, from everything I’ve seen, this is exactly — even archetypally — what Osama seems to have become. A religious and political martyr.

Immelman did, however, mention Dr. Millon’s syndrome of “puritanical compulsiveness.” These individuals, writes Harvard psychologist and noted personality theorist Theodore Millon (1996), are “austere, self-righteous, [and] highly controlled.” Their “intense anger and resentment … is given sanction, at least as they see it, by virtue of their being on the side of righteousness and morality.” This resentment-based syndrome certainly closely resembles bin Laden’s messianic character.

Does al-Baghdadi suffer from some mental disorder? Could the ISIS leader, like the late Osama bin Laden, be best understood as a narcissistic personality disorder? Antisocial personality disorder? Paranoid personality disorder? Delusional psychotic? Some hybrid of each? Or is he, perhaps more crucially in this context, like bin Laden before him,what I would call a fanatically religious cult leader with a major messiah complex? (See Part 3)



I have not conducted an empirical at-a-distance- psychological assessment of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; however, based on my informal observations, Baghdadi’s psychological profile resembles Ayman al-Zawahiri (fundamentalist “abrasive negativist”) more closely than Osama Bin Laden (nonfundamentalist “unprincipled narcissist”).

Related reports on this site

Ayman al-Zawahiri Psychological Profile (May 3, 2011)

Full research report

“Bin Laden’s Brain”: The Abrasively Negativistic Personality of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri

Paper presented at the 26th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Boston, July 6–9, 2003

Osama bin Laden Psychological Profile (May 2, 2011)

Full research report

The Personality Profile of al-Qaida Leader Osama bin Laden

Paper presented at the 25th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Berlin, July 16–19, 2002

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Kamala Harris at the first Democratic presidential debate, Miami, Florida, June 27, 2019. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Research conducted at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics under the direction of Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., is projecting the winner of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

The Personal Electability Index (PEI) developed at the unit projects that none of the seven Democratic contenders assessed by the USPP will be able to defeat Donald Trump.

This election-outcome forecast is at variance with a contemporaneous ABC News/Washington Post poll, conducted June 28-July 1, 2019, that shows Trump losing against or statistically tied with the five Democratic front-runners:

Among all adults …, Joe Biden leads Trump by 14 points. But that narrows among the other four Democrats tested against Trump in this poll – an 8-point lead for Kamala Harris, a slight 7 points for Elizabeth Warren, 6 for Bernie Sanders and 4 for Pete Buttigieg. The latter two don’t reach statistical significance.

Among registered voters, moreover, Biden still leads, by 10 points, but the other races all tighten to virtual or actual dead heats – Trump a non-significant -2 points against Harris, -1 against Sanders and exactly tied with Warren and Buttigieg.

The PEI (derived from Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria scale scores) has accurately predicted, before Super Tuesday, the outcome of every presidential election since 1996.

The PEI heuristic model employs candidate personality traits, as publicly perceived, to predict which contender will resonate most favorably with independent and unaffiliated voters who base their voting choice primarily on the candidate’s personal qualities as publicly displayed rather than on party-political affiliation or allegiance.

The PEI model’s predictive utility in recent presidential election cycles appears to derive from the practically even division of the nation into reliably Republican and Democratic voting blocks, essentially yielding the balance of power to politically independent and unaffiliated voters comprising as much as one-third of the electorate.

Research on the psychology of politics conducted at the USPP reveals that voters respond favorably to candidates who are outgoing (extraverted), self-confident (productively narcissistic), and dominant; and negatively to candidates who are introverted and overly conscientious.

First, extraversion (Scale 3: Outgoing) conveys energy, drive, and charisma; the candidate passes the so-called “beer test.”

Second, self-confident, adaptive narcissism (Scale 2: Ambitious) is publicly perceived as leadership competency; legitimately or not, confidence conveys competence.

Third, social dominance (Scale 1A: Dominant) is publicly perceived as signifying strong leadership; governing requires cooperation and compromise, but campaigns reward fighters.

Fourth, introversion (Scale 8: Retiring) conveys low energy, a lack of drive, and the absence of charisma; the candidate fails the “beer test.”

Fifth, although associated with positive traits such as honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, morality, prudence, and competence, conscientiousness (Scale 6: Conscientious) at elevated levels is negatively perceived as being overly programmed, moralistic, officious, and high-handed, which doesn’t play well in retail politics.

As conceptualized by the PEI forecasting model, candidates studied in the 2020 presidential election cycle rank as follows in terms of predicted political impact as a general election candidate:

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)


Hillary Clinton (Undeclared)

Presidential Electability Index

Score: 27; dysfunctionality adjusted = 12


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)


(Scroll down to “Detailed Personal Electability Index scores” for full data analytics)

The Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics’s PEI projection is congruent with the ABC News/Washington Post poll’s finding that, among the Democratic primary front-runners, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris would pose the strongest challenge to Donald Trump in a hypothetical general election matchup.

However, as is evident in the CNN screen shot above, the PEI projection that none of the Democratic presidential candidates will be able to defeat Trump in a general election matchup is incongruent with current polling data. Similarly, a recent Fox News poll showed Trump trailing Democratic frontrunners Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, and Buttigieg.

The PEI projection is also inconsistent with Trump’s own internal polling, which shows him losing states he won in 2016 to Biden if the election were held today, including North Carolina, Iowa, Georgia, and Ohio.



Trump maintains advantage in Electoral College (Nov. 4, 2019)

One year from election, Trump trails Biden but leads Warren in battlegrounds (Nate Cohn, The Upshot, New York Times, Nov. 4, 2019) — Despite low national approval ratings and the specter of impeachment, President Trump remains highly competitive in the battleground states likeliest to decide his re-election, according to a set of new surveys from The New York Times Upshot and Siena College. Across the six closest states that went Republican in 2016, he trails Joe Biden by an average of two points among registered voters but stays within the margin of error. Mr. Trump leads Elizabeth Warren by two points among registered voters, the same margin as his win over Hillary Clinton in these states three years ago. … The Times/Siena results and other data suggest that the president’s advantage in the Electoral College relative to the nation as a whole remains intact or has even grown since 2016, raising the possibility that the Republicans could — for the third time in the past six elections — win the presidency while losing the popular vote. …



Joe Biden more electable than Elizabeth Warren (Nov. 9, 2019)

The electability difference between Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden (Harry Enten, CNN, Nov. 9, 2019) — One consistency in the data … is that Warren runs slightly weaker than Sanders and clearly weaker than Biden. These new polls echo prior data that has shown that Warren’s electability case is not anywhere near as strong as it is for Biden. … The numbers look even worse for Warren among those who aren’t Democrats or Democratic leaning independents. …


Elizabeth Warren has the lowest PEI score among the seven Democratic contenders studied this election cycle and Joe Biden the highest, suggesting Biden is by far the more viable general election candidate in a matchup against Donald Trump.



Will Democrats pick the right candidate? (Dec. 25, 2019)

The five questions that will decide 2020 election (Julian Zelizer, CNN, Dec. 25, 2019) — Former Vice President Joe Biden…. has argued to Democrats that … he is the only one who can defeat the president in November. … And so far, he has shown that he has considerable appeal. … Biden’s numbers have remained solid despite all the attacks and smears from the administration. Skeptics … must admit he has done better than expected. … Progressives argue that it’s time for a change. The best bet, they say, is someone who can mobilize and inspire voters. …


Joe Biden has the highest PEI score among the seven Democratic contenders studied this election cycle, suggesting he is the most viable general election candidate in a matchup against Donald Trump; however, his PEI score predicts he is unlikely to defeat President Trump.



CNN poll: Bernie Sanders surges to join Biden atop Democratic presidential pack (Jan. 22, 2020)

Sanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed accusing him of a 'big corruption problem'

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has improved his standing in the national Democratic race for president, joining former Vice President Joe Biden in a two-person top tier above the rest of the field, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. …

Overall, 27% of registered voters who are Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents back Sanders, while 24% favor Biden. Both … are significantly ahead of the rest of the field, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 14% and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 11%. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg lands at 5% in the poll, while Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and businessman Andrew Yang each hold 4% support. Businessman Tom Steyer has 2%. No other candidate reaches 1% support. …


The CNN poll is consistent with a contemporaneous SurveyUSA poll, which shows Bernie Sanders marginally outperforming Joe Biden in a head-to-head matchup against Donald Trump if the election were held today:

The poll found that 52 percent of voters would choose Sanders and 43 percent Trump, giving the veteran senator a nine-point lead. Next was former vice president Joe Biden at 50 percent to Trump’s 43 percent, a seven-point lead.

Michael Bloomberg, the media and financial data billionaire, also led Trump by seven points at 49 percent to 42 percent. Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren leads Trump 48 percent to 45 percent, a three-point advantage.

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is also ahead of Trump by three points, at 47 percent to 44 percent. The tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang is ahead of Trump by two points, at 46 percent to 44 percent.

The billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer is tied with Trump at 44 percent apiece, Democratic Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar loses to Trump by two points at 43 percent to 45 percent.

The CNN and SurveyUSA polls are both at variance with the USPP’s PEI-based election-outcome forecast issued July 8, 2019, which projects Trump will defeat any and all of the seven Democratic contenders studied this election cycle, including Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar.



Sabato’s Crystal Ball Electoral College ratings (Feb. 27, 2020)

Read analysis by Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman



Update: Stu Rothenberg says Biden now has the edge over Trump in the presidential race (March 18, 2020)

The likely nomination of former Vice President Joe Biden has shifted the race in Democrats’ favor, Stu Rothenberg writes. (Photo: Caroline Brehman / CQ Roll Call)

Presidential race now leans toward the Democrats; Democrats’ coalescing around Biden shifts race away from Trump (Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call, March 18, 2020) — More than 14 months ago, I wrote a column … suggesting that the 2020 presidential contest was a toss-up, but one that tilted toward the Democrats. I offered caveats about the economy and the Democratic nomination, acknowledging that there was “no way of knowing what events will draw America’s attention 18 or 20 months from now.” Now, the landscape has changed. Democrats are likely to be united in the fall, and President Donald Trump’s standing is stuck where it has been for many months. There are also more questions about presidential leadership and the economy, which the president has been relying on to help him win a second term. The president is an underdog now in his bid for a second term. … The Democratic nominee — Joe Biden — now deserves to be a clear favorite in November’s presidential contest.

More »




Why Joe Biden starts as the 2020 front-runner

April 8, 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a rally at Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi on March 8, 2020. (Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)

With Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ decision to end his campaign on Wednesday, it’s now official: Former Vice President Joe Biden will be the Democratic presidential nominee this fall.

And Biden starts the general election against President Donald Trump as the front-runner — albeit not a huge one.

Start with polling. A new Quinnipiac University national poll released Wednesday afternoon put Biden at 49% to Trump’s 41%.

That’s broadly consistent with the Real Clear Politics average of all general election matchups between the two; RCP shows Biden with an average of a 6-point lead over Sanders.

But the presidential election is’t a national popular vote, you will say. And remember what happened in 2016, you will note.

True! But neutral political handicappers also give Biden a small but discernible edge over Trump in the race to 270 electoral votes.

As the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter wrote in late March:

“Biden starts with a slight lead in the Electoral College math. Right now, 232 electoral votes sit in Lean/Likely or Solid Democrat. On the GOP side, 204 electoral votes are in the Lean/Likely/Solid Republican column. There are six states (and one congressional district) in Toss-Up: Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska’s 2nd district. Those add up to 102 Electoral votes.”

Around that same time, Stu Rothenberg, founder of the Rothenberg Political Report, concluded much the same thing as he wrote:

“The President is an underdog now in his bid for a second term. That doesn’t mean he can’t win. It simply means that he is in a more difficult place than he was before, in part because Democrats have united behind a consensus candidate who has potentially broad appeal.”

As Rothenberg rightly notes, things change! Four years ago, polls and Electoral College handicapping would have suggested Hillary Clinton was a clear favorite — and we know how that turned out.

But that’s in the fuzzy future. And we are very much in the present right now.

The Point: If today is rightly understood as the first day of the 2020 general election, then as of day one, Joe Biden is more likely to be elected president on November 3 than Donald Trump.

— Chris



Trump campaign demands CNN apologize for poll that shows Biden leading (June 10, 2020)

A new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS finds President Donald Trump’s approval rating down 7 points in the last month as the President falls further behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, whose support now stands at its highest level in CNN polling. (3:58)

President Donald Trump’s campaign is demanding CNN retract and apologize for a recent poll that showed him well behind presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. …

The CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released on Monday shows Trump trailing the former vice president by 14 points, 55%-41%, among registered voters. It also finds the President’s approval rating at 38% — his worst mark since January 2019, and roughly on par with approval ratings for one-term Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush at this point in their reelection years — and his disapproval rating at 57%.

More »




The electoral map just keeps getting worse for Trump

June 23, 2020

It’s easy to get lost in the sea of national polls — all of which show former Vice President Joe Biden with high-single digit lead over President Donald Trump.

But as we learned in 2016 (and 2000!), the only count that really matters is the Electoral College.

Unfortunately for Trump, his chances of getting to the 270 electoral votes he needs to win a second term are looking, at least the moment, quite dim.

Over the past week, two major political prognosticators — Amy Walter at the Cook Political Report and Nate Silver of 538 — have released updated looks at the electoral map. And the picture they paint for Trump is dire.

“With just under five months until the election, President Trump is a severe underdog for re-election,” writes Walter, who puts 248 electoral votes solidly or leaning to Biden and 204 solidly or leaning to Trump.

Adds Walter:

“To win the Electoral College, Biden would need to win just 26 percent of those Toss Up states/districts, while Trump would need to win over 75 percent of them. In other words, Trump has little room for error, while Biden has a wider path to winning.”

Silver’s analysis is similar.

“Overall — assuming that states that haven’t been polled go the same way as they did in 2016 — Biden leads in states worth 368 electoral votes, while Trump leads in states totaling 170 electoral votes,” he writes.

To be clear: Neither Walter nor Silver (nor me) say the election is over or that Trump can’t win. In fact, while Silver suggests there’s a possibility that Biden could win in a “landslide” if all the current toss-up states go to him, “so is a Trump Electoral College victory, depending on which way the race moves between now and November.”

But what they are saying is that right now the electoral map is very much in Biden’s favor. Not only are traditional Democratic states that Trump won in 2016 like Michigan and Pennsylvania looking likely to return to the Democratic column in 2020, but former Republican strongholds like Arizona, North Carolina and maybe even Texas appear to genuinely in play for Biden.

All of which gives the presumptive Democratic nominee, as Walter rightly notes, more paths to the 270 electoral votes he needed to be the 46th president.

Paths do still exist for Trump — most notably by holding two of the three Rust Belt states (Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin) and keeping the status quo elsewhere on the map.

But there are a whole lot less paths for Trump than for Biden. And with each passing week of late, the number of good electoral map options for Trump just keeps shrinking.

The Point: The best news for Trump is that Election Day is still a ways away. If the election were held today, he would lose convincingly — in the popular vote and the Electoral College.


— Chris



He predicted Trump’s win in 2016. Now he’s ready to call 2020.

Featuring Allan Lichtman

August 5, 2020

Most historians just study the past. But Allan Lichtman has successfully predicted the future. (Video by Nayeema Raza and Kristopher Knight/ The New York Times)

Right now, polls say Joe Biden has a healthy lead over President Trump. But we’ve been here before (cue 2016), and the polls were, frankly, wrong. One man, however, was not. The historian Allan Lichtman was the lonely forecaster who predicted Mr. Trump’s victory in 2016 — and also prophesied the president would be impeached. That’s two for two. But Professor Lichtman’s record goes much deeper. In 1980, he developed a presidential prediction model that retrospectively accounted for 120 years of U.S. election history. Over the past four decades, his system has accurately called presidential victors, from Ronald Reagan in ’84 to, well, Mr. Trump in 2016.

In the video Op-Ed above, Professor Lichtman walks us through his system, which identifies 13 “keys” to winning the White House. Each key is a binary statement: true or false. And if six or more keys are false, the party in the White House is on its way out.

So what do the keys predict for 2020? To learn that, you’ll have to watch the video.

Allan Lichtman (@AllanLichtman) is a professor of history at American University.



Biden is favored to win the election

August 12, 2020

The presidential race is in many ways just getting started. On Tuesday, we got Joe Biden’s VP pick (Sen. Kamala Harris), the Democratic National Convention is next week, and the Republican National Convention soon after. So while it’s clear that Biden is comfortably ahead of Trump right now — nationally and in most battleground states — the forecast shows Trump with a meaningful chance of winning because there’s still plenty of time for the race to tighten.



Detailed Personal Electability Index scores

Following are the scores of candidates studied in the 2020 presidential election cycle on the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria-based Personal Electability Index, which has accurately predicted the outcome of every presidential election since 1996.

Donald Trump: PEI = 65-77 (71 ±6); dysfunctionality adjusted = 45*

Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8
Lower bound: 17 9 24 24 0 0 4 0 0 0
Upper bound: 20 14 30 27 1 0 9 3 0 1
Adjusted: 15 9 15 15 0 0 4 0 0 0

Lower bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 17] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 24] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 17] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = 0] = 65 – 0 = 65

Upper bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 27] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 30] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 20] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (3 – 3) = 0] = 77 – 0 = 77

Dysfunctionality adjusted PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = (24 – 9) = 15] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = (24 – 9) = 15] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = (17 – 2) = 15] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = 0] = 45 – 0 = 45

* The dysfunctionality adjusted score limits positive points for scales 1A, 2, and 3 to 15, based on the assumption that scale elevations above 15 may be dysfunctional in some respects. (Note also that the PEI heuristic specifies that negative scores for scale 6 are assigned for scale elevations above 4 only.)

Joe Biden: PEI = 16-29 (22.5 ±6.5)

Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8
Lower bound: 3 2 4 9 5 0 1 1 0 0
Upper bound: 6 4 10 13 5 0 1 4 0 0

Lower bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 9] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 4] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 3] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (1 – 1) = 0] = 16 – 0 = 16

Upper bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 13] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 10] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 6] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (4 – 4) = 0] = 29 – 0 = 29

Joe Biden (updated Dec. 31, 2019): PEI = 22-33 (27.5 ±5.5)

Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8
Lower bound: 4 3 5 13 5 0 0 0 0 0
Upper bound: 6 4 11 16 5 0 1 3 0 0

Lower bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 13] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 5] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 4] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (0 – 0) = 0] = 22 – 0 = 22

Upper bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 16] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 11] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 6] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (3 – 3) = 0] = 33 – 0 = 33

Hillary Clinton: PEI = 27; dysfunctionality adjusted = 12*

Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8
Score: 21 2 24 0 0 0 3 15 1 7

Scale: 1A = 21; 2 = 24; 3 = 0; 6 = 15; 8 = 7

PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 0] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 24] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 21] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 7] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (15 – 4) = 11] = 45 – 18 = 27

Dysfunctionality adjusted PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 0] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = (24 – 9) = 15] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = (21 – 6) = 15] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 7] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (15 – 4) = 11] = 30 – 18 = 12

Kamala Harris: PEI = 13-27 (20 ±7)

Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8
Lower bound: 4 2 4 5 3 1 1 3 0 0
Upper bound: 8 4 6 13 4 1 2 4 1 0

Lower bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 5] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 4] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 4] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (1-1) = 0] = 13 – 0 = 13

Upper bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 13] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 6] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 8] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (4 – 4) = 0] = 27 – 0 = 27

Bernie Sanders: PEI = 16-23 (19.5 ±3.5)

Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8
Lower bound: 9 5 5 3 2 0 4 3 0 1
Upper bound: 13 11 9 4 5 1 12 5 0 2

Lower bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 3] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 5] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 9] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 1] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (3 – 3) = 0] = 17 – 1 = 16

Upper bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 4] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 9] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 13] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 2] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (5 – 4) = 1] = 26 – 3 = 23

Amy Klobuchar: PEI = 13-23 (18 ±5)

Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8
Lower bound: 11 3 7 4 5 0 1 13 0 0
Upper bound: 20 3 11 6 5 0 3 17 0 1

Lower bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 4] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 7] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 11] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (13 – 4) = 9] = 22 – 9 = 13

Upper bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 6] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 11] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 20] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 1] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (17 – 4) = 13] = 37 – 14 = 23

Beto O’Rourke: PEI = 11-23 (17 ±6)

Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8
Lower bound: 1 5 4 6 5 1 1 1 0 0
Upper bound: 3 13 6 14 7 3 3 2 3 0

Lower bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 6] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 4] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 1] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (1 – 1) = 0] = 11 – 0 = 11

Upper bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 14] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 6] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 3] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (2 – 2) = 0] = 23 – 0 = 23

Pete Buttigieg: PEI = 10-18 (14 ±4)

Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8
Lower bound: 2 2 4 4 5 1 0 3 2 0
Upper bound: 3 4 9 8 7 2 1 5 4 1

Lower bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 4] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 4] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 2] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (3 – 3) = 0] = 10 – 0 = 10

Upper bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 8] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 9] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 3] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 1] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (5 – 4) = 1] = 20 – 2 = 18

Elizabeth Warren: PEI = 11-15 (13 ±2)

Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8
Lower bound: 9 2 4 3 1 0 2 4 3 1
Upper bound: 11 3 8 4 4 3 3 12 7 4

Lower bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 3] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 4] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 9] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 1] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (4 – 4) = 0] = 16 – 1 = 15

Upper bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 4] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 8] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 11] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 4] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (12 – 4) = 8] = 23 – 12 = 11

Elizabeth Warren (updated Sept. 25, 2019): PEI = 6-8 (7 ±1)

Scale: 1A 1B 2 3 4 5A 5B 6 7 8
Lower bound: 8 0 4 1 0 1 2 9 2 2
Upper bound: 11 2 6 2 1 1 3 12 4 3

Lower bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 1] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 4] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 8] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 2] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (9 – 4) = 5] = 13 – 7 = 6

Upper bound PEI = [Extraversion (scale 3) = 2] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 6] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 11] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 3] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (12 – 4) = 8] = 19 – 11 = 8


PEI Scores for Democratic and Republican Nominees, 1996-2016

For historical context, here are the personality-based electability scores for all major-party nominees since 1996, published before Super Tuesday in presidential election years, with the successful candidate listed first:


Related report

Projecting the Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election: The Personal Electability Index (Feb. 29, 2016)