Mad Wombat

A moderately liberal Democraticly-themed blog

December 2011 Politifact Truthfulness Scale

It’s time to release the “Truthfulness Scale” for December 2011, based on Politifact’s ratings for the current 2012 presidential candidates. Yes, I actually did do this in November. I just didn’t bother posting it on my blog, so the comparisons will be to the November ratings. Sorry about that. I’m also doing this month’s ratings early because I have a feeling I won’t get around to it at the end of the month due to the Holidays. I may also start doing these more frequently upon the start of the year due to the primaries heating up.

If you aren’t aware of how I calculate these, candidates get awarded 2 points for a “true” rating, 1 point for “mostly true,” 1/2 point for “half true,” -1/2 point for “mostly false,” -1 point for “false,” and -2 points for “pants on fire.” I then divide the total points by the number of ratings to get the Truth Average. The higher the score, the better. A negative score basically means a candidate wouldn’t know the truth if it punched them in the face.

So here are the ratings as of December 16th, with the change from the scores from November 29th in parentheses. Minimum 10 ratings:

  1. Barack Obama: 0.59 (NC)
  2. John Huntsman: 0.46 (-0.17)
  3. Ron Paul: 0.46 (-0.08)
  4. Mitt Romney: 0.34 (NC)
  5. Rick Santorum: 0.15 (+0.40)
  6. Rick Perry: 0.01 (NC)
  7. Newt Gingrich: -0.31 (-0.21)
  8. Michelle Bachmann: -0.59 (-0.03)

Some notes: Herman Cain has been taken out of the ratings because he dropped out of the race. However, Newt has apparently decided to take his spot as one of the worst liars now that he’s been made the frontrunner. I don’t know what it is about becoming a front runner and lying, but Bachmann did it (and continues to do so), Perry’s score fell lock a rock when he became the frontrunner, Cain’s score was always low, and now Gingrich’s score has dropped like rock since becoming the front runner. I don’t know if this lying is making them the front runner or if they feel compelled to lie to appease their base, but there definitely seems to be some connection between being the flavor of the month candidate and not telling the truth. The only candidate this doesn’t really seem to apply to so far is Mitt Romney.

As recently as August, Gingrich had a score of 0.11, making him the 3rd most truthful Republican. Now he’s next to last, having lost almost a half point average since then. That’s a lot of lying in the past 3 1/2 months.

Rick Santorum, on the other hand, has been doing some truth telling. It’s not really about Obama or anything – basically some statements on unemployment for college grads and some statements about the Balanced Budget Amendment when he was in the Senate, but I don’t really care what the ratings are about, and Politifact decided to judge them, so they’re in. In any case, it’s enough to boost his score by nearly half a point – helped by the fact that he only has 13 ratings to begin with. But it’s moved Santorum from next to last (sans Cain) to 4rd among Republicans, at least for the moment.

Jon Huntsman’s lead didn’t last long. He joined the list last month (finally) having a rating of 0.63. However, a couple of “mostly false” ratings has dropped his score into a tie with Ron Paul for 2nd overall, though still tied for first among GOP candidates.

Since the end of August, the change in the candidates ratings are now thus (Huntsman and Santorum aren’t listed since they didn’t have enough ratings to have a score at the time):

  • Michelle Bachmann: +0.23
  • Rick Perry: +0.02
  • Barack Obama: No change
  • Mitt Romney: -0.12
  • Ron Paul: -0.25
  • Newt Gingrich: -0.42

I should note it should say something when Bachmann has improved her score by a quarter of a point and she still is about a quarter point behind any other candidate at this point. Her score back in August was a truly abysmal -0.82. It’s now only -0.59. Which means she’s told the truth occasionally, but her “mostly false,” “false,” and “pants on fire” ratings still outnumber her “true,” “mostly true,” and “half true” ratings nearly 3 to 1.

Sadly, she’s really the only Republican candidate to have made any improvements. Perry improved from -0.01 to +0.01, which isn’t that much of a change, really. All other GOP candidates scores have dropped in the past 3 1/2 months. The main reason Obama’s score hasn’t changed is that his over 300 ratings make his score extremely stable.

I suppose the only good stat for the Republicans is that, unlike last month, half their field is no longer underwater. Newt Gingrich already had a negative rating, Herman Cain dropped out, and Santorum went from having a negative rating to a positive one. That means 5 of the 7 GOP candidates now actually have a positive rating. But as noted above, the trend for almost all of them is still downward.

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