How exit polls compared with Brand Believability™ scores


Brand BelievabilityTM is a methodology to measure and understand the factors that influence perception of a brand’s alignment with purpose. In this case, we put it to use on the Believability of the candidates in this year’s presidential election.

We surveyed a mix of likely voters to assign Brand Believability scores to candidates and their parties, based on the likelihood they would have a positive, profound impact on lives, communities and the world over the next four years. The metrics we used to track Believability from our respondents were: age, sex, and party affiliation. We also looked at survey responses to get a better understanding of why respondents felt a certain way about a party or candidate.

Our Brand Believability results favored Clinton with an average score of 3.77 compared to Trump’s 3.4. Neither candidate’s score suggested voters were confident in their overall believability, with 10 being the highest possible score. As we now know, Trump is the president-elect and people around the world are surprised by this result. 

We took key findings highlighted in our 2016 Election Report and compared them to actual exit polling data from The New York Times . Our findings mostly matched the exit data, but at times there were inconsistencies that may explain the result of the election. For the most part, our Believability scores and responses reflected the way Americans voted and how they felt about the election. Trump’s Believability among Baby Boomers, Independent voters, and the Republican party as a whole may have been the difference that won him the election.


The Brand Believability survey and New York Times’ exit polls data had similar results when considering age. We divided age into 3 categories: Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers and found similarities in Believability scores and exit polls data.

Millennials (18-29)

  • Favored Clinton over Trump 55% to 37% -NY Times Exit Polls
  • Rated Clinton higher than Trump 4.22 to 2.57 -Brand Believability Score

Generation X (30-44)

  • Favored Clinton over Trump 50% to 42% -NY Times Exit Polls
  • Rated Clinton higher than Trump 4.88 to 2.36 -Brand Believability Score

Baby Boomers (45+)

  • Favored Trump over Clinton 53% to 45% -NY Times Exit Polls
  • Rated Trump higher than Clinton 4.26 to 3.02 -Brand Believability Score



The results of the candidates’ scores when broken down by gender differed from the exit polling data. Both men and women ranked Clinton higher on Brand Believability, yet more men voted for Trump than Clinton.

  • Both men and women scored Trump an average of 3.41 in Brand Believability
  • Clinton scored 4.01 with women and 3.59 among men in Brand Believability
  • Trump won among men 53% to 41%
  • Clinton won among women 54% to 42% 



The highest Brand Believability scores came along party lines.

  • Democrats rated Clinton higher than any demographic rated any candidate with a 6.52
  • Republicans rated Trump at 5.29.
  • Despite Democrats having higher Believability ratings, 89% of Democrats voted Clinton while 90% of Republicans voted Trump
  • Independents scored Clinton as much more believable than Trump (4.12 to 2.71) but at the polls people who did not identify with a party voted for Trump more than Clinton (48% to 42%)

The data shows that not only did Trump have stronger support from his party than senator Clinton, but he stole more votes from the opposing party and Independents than she did. Independents’ top responses for voting for Trump in our Believability survey were that he was more honest and a change of pace from career politicians.



Our responses from the Brand Believability survey gave us insight into a wide range of opinions and emotions. Data from the New York Times exit polls reflect the same motives among voters.

  • The majority of negative Believability scores for Clinton came from those who felt she was not honest enough to be president. The exit poll data reflects that, with 73% of Trump supporters believing Clinton is not trustworthy.

  • Many respondents that supported Clinton noted that Trump did not have the self control to serve as president. Exit polls align with these results with 72% of Clinton supporters voting they don’t think Trump has the temperament to serve as president

  • A common response from Trump supporters was that they were upset with the state of our government. The New York Times exit data shows that 77% of Trump supporters were angry about how the current government was operating.

  • Respondents that supported Trump expressed how he could bring needed change to the current system. This holds true according to the exit polls, with 83% of Trump supporters feeling the most important quality of a president should be to bring needed change.

  • Contrary to Trump supporters, respondents that favored Clinton noted they felt the current government was progressively improving lives. This belief shows in the exit poll data with 78% of Clinton supporters voting the current system was working

  • Another response from Clinton supporters was that Trump lacked the valuable experience in politics that Hillary had. This proved to be a major belief at the polls with 90% of Clinton voters stating the most important quality in a candidate was Experience



Our findings showed a lack of belief in both major candidates in this election. In many cases, respondents felt they were choosing between who would have the least negative impact. However, it was evident that all respondents share a common desire for a president they believe they can trust.

Common voter perceptions were found and identified before the election in our Brand Believability report and were proven accurate by the exit polling data from the New York Times. Given these findings, we believe Brand Believability can continue to provide insight in future elections in addition to commercial and non-profit organizations and how they can have a profound impact on lives, communities and the world.


Ryan is a fall 2016 intern at Will & Grail. He is a University of Missouri graduate.

Purpose, proofWill & Grail Staff