Candidates and personal qualities US Elections

. One key distinction in US politics compared to the UK is the focus on individual personalities over party affiliation. Campaign ads and promotional materials often prioritize a candidate’s personal qualities, experience, and policies rather than their party allegiance. The party label is seen more as a superficial aspect rather than the driving force behind a candidate’s campaign. For instance, ‘Hope and Change’ was associated with Obama rather than the Democratic Party in 2008, and the same goes for ‘Make America Great Again’ with Trump in 2016 and 2020. This emphasis on individual character and leadership is partly due to the primary system, where candidates are responsible for running and funding their campaigns independently. Success in primaries is often attributed to a candidate’s personal efforts, connections, and organizational skills rather than their ability to sway a selection committee. Additionally, the nature of the presidential role itself places a strong emphasis on the individual, making it primarily a personal rather than party-centered position, despite the importance of party support both in reaching and maintaining office, particularly in working with Congress. Social media further reinforces this focus on individuality, as individuals, not parties, tend to amass followers on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For example, by early 2020, Trump had 42 million Twitter followers and had posted around 42,000 tweets from his personal account, @realDonaldTrump, a handle that remained unchanged after he became president. In comparison, the Republican Party’s official account, @GOP, had just under 2.4 million followers.

 However, the qualities expected in a leader are often complex and at times contradictory. Candidates are expected to be principled yet flexible, empathetic yet decisive, composed under pressure yet responsive and collaborative. Those who emphasize family values or progressive ideals like inclusivity and respect may face significant backlash if personal scandals or misconduct come to light. The repercussions of the #MeToo movement were felt across party lines, leading to the downfall of several lawmakers, including long-standing Michigan Democrat congressman John Conyers, who resigned from Congress in December 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of public funds to settle harassment claims. Personal attributes, both positive and negative, play a central role in election campaigns.