Getting Personal: Voters Sound Off on the Candidates

NEW YORK A quick Google search reveals the following: Judith Nathan Giuliani was a broke, part-time receptionist who is now a money-and power-hungry wife (per; Jeri Kehn Thompson is younger than one of her husband’s children from a former marriage (via the blogosphere); and Michelle Robinson Obama once took her husband on a job interview to see if the interviewer passed his muster (according to, which recently began a First Mate series). From spouses and children to religious beliefs, a presidential hopeful’s personal life is fair game—fodder to dissect and discuss when considering the brand that is a candidate. Of course, people talk freely about things once considered private, but will those factors play a role at the polls? This random, online survey of 1,062 Americans 18 and older conducted by JWT and exclusive to Adweek examines how pertinent non-policy issues have become to the electoral process. And pertinent they are: Although 60 percent of respondents agree that we know too much about candidates’ personal lives, only 30 percent agree that this information is irrelevant to whether they’d make a good president. The survey, fielded from Oct. 18-24, was analyzed by Ann M. Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT.

Rah-rah-sis-boom-bah: It looks like people would most like to see a candidate’s spouse sidelined as a fan and sounding board. And whomever makes it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue should pick a cause, any cause—as long as it doesn’t tread into presidential territory. Only 22% and 24% of total respondents believe the First Spouse should be a co-president or policy advisor, respectively, though Democrats are warmer to that idea than Republicans: Could it be that thoughts of a two-for-one administration are dancing in their heads?

The good neighbor: Help you find a job? Check. Settle a neighborly dispute? Check. Counsel you on your investment? Check. Clinton is the candidate most people would trust with these tasks. But would she take a bullet for you? More people would pick POW McCain and tough-talking Giuliani to act as their human shield over Hill. Wonder how these skills would translate in the job of a budget-balancing, foreign-relations-forging and consensus-building commander-in-chief?

Keeping the faith: Arguably, John F. Kennedy helped to make it just as acceptable to have a Catholic as president as a Protestant one. Nearly the same percentage of adults (more than 70%) would be as comfortable voting for someone who is Jewish as they would someone who is an evangelical Christian. People are split on whether they’d feel at ease electing a Buddhist or Mormon. And nearly three-quarters would feel uncomfortable voting for a Muslim, slightly more than that for an atheist.