The basic principle underpinning a good reputation is maintaining consistency in who we are, what we do and what we say. Reputational problems arise when any of these three elements are not aligned with each other. By the nature of its activity, in the political arena this difference between what is said and what is finally done may be more common than in other fields, which has an impact on how the exercise of politics is perceived by public opinion.

As experts in reputation management and measurement, we go beyond mere opinion or intuition to put data to what, so far, is a perception. Is this assumption that the reputation of politicians is not good correct? The answer is strongly conditioned by territorial scope. Below, we will see why, when we talk about political leaders and reputation, it is important to differentiate between national, regional, and local leaders (Study about the reputation of political leaders, Thinking Heads).

Significant differences in reputation according to management level

The scope of action of political leaders greatly influences their public perception. In our analysis of 5 national leaders, 17 regional leaders and 6 mayors (with a total of 5,806 cases collected), we see how this varies significantly when we analyze one or the other. In the case of national leaders, the average reputation score is 38.7 points out of 100, i.e., they do not reach the minimum of 50 points to pass. For local leaders this score rises to 50 points, and 50.5 points in the case of regional leaders. The average for all the groups is 47.8 points (failing grade), but as we can see, it is the national leaders who hamper this result. In any case, it is worth mentioning that no politician exceeds the 60 points needed to achieve a “good reputation”, thus, so far the data support the above-mentioned perception.

Copia de La reputación de los líderes nacionales se encuentra en la franja de una reputación muy baja (38,7) (1)

The disparity between groups can be seen when we analyze the different attributes that positively weigh a leader. As we can see in the graph below, regional leaders are in general, the most highly valued in most of them, followed by regional leaders, and, at some distance, national leaders.

Copia de La reputación de los líderes nacionales se encuentra en la franja de una reputación muy baja (38,7)

What exactly do these data tell us? According to journalist Carmen Martínez Castro, Secretary of State for Communication (2011-2018) and one of the analysts who participated in the presentation of our study (revisit it here), media overexposure plays a fundamental role. According to Martínez Castro, national politics has a degree of polarization in no case comparable to that of regional and local politics. She also assures that national leaders are much more punished by the media and operate in a generally more hostile climate.

It is clear that the proximity of the scope of action of politicians has an impact on their reputation, as can be seen in the case of the management of COVID-19. The survey data indicate that the management of the pandemic by regional and local leaders has been much better perceived than that by national leaders, who in general do not pass.

In view of these results, we can claim that there is a reputation gap in the political arena, which is largely determined by the level at which leaders perform their role.

Want to know all the details and results? Download the study down below.