Understanding Candidates’ Attributes

Personal attributes are Leadership, Integrity, Experience, Issue Familiarity, Charisma, Stamina, Debating, Ideologue, and Ambition.

The descriptions for Personal Attributes which are also Issues (Leadership, Integrity, Experience, Issue Familiarity) are as follows (you can see these on the Player Info > Platform screen).

  • 0. Non-existent
  • 1. Extremely Weak
  • 2. Very Weak
  • 3. Weak
  • 4. Below average
  • 5. Average
  • 6. Above average
  • 7. Strong
  • 8. Very Strong
  • 9. Exceptionally Strong
  • 10. Legendary

These values are considered relative to a typical candidate for, in this case, President.

Below, each personal attribute is addressed in specific, including a working definition and how it works in the game.


Definition: Leadership is a composite, and includes visionary, strategic, and managerial leadership abilities. These can be demonstrated in government, business, or other organizational leadership roles. It is the ability to inspire or get ‘buy in’ from people to follow and then effectively lead them to the desired result. There are various styles of leadership, from more cooperative to more authoritative to more inspirational, but the important point for game purposes is that it gets results.

Some places a candidate can have demonstrated leadership are

  • Military
  • Business
  • Representative, Mayor, Senator, Governor, Vice-President, President
  • Executive leaders of other organizations
  • Political movements

It’s important to note that it’s not just that they had a leadership role, but the quality of their demonstrated leadership, that affects the Leadership attribute. In some cases, a candidate won’t have a track record, and so the designer will have to make more of an educated guess.


Definition: Integrity includes both political integrity (does a politician keep their promises in the public sphere? are they ethical in their public work?) and personal integrity (do they say what they believe or what is expedient? are they hypocritical? do they lie or engage in other obviously deceitful behavior in their personal lives?).

How it works in the game: affects Barnstorming (including Rallies), Scandals being researched on candidate, Spinning scandals by the candidate, Integrity issue.


Definition: Experience is experience relevant to running a campaign and then being a politician in whatever role they are running for. This would include familiarity with things like barnstorming, interviews, media relations, legislative processes, and so on.

How it works in the game: affects Barnstorming (including Rallies), Spinning, Gaffes, Backfires, Experience issue.

Issue Familiarity

Definition: Issue Familiarity is familiarity with both general aspects of various issues of the day, but also more specific facts. Therefore it helps in particular with interviews and debates.

How it works in the game: affects Barnstorming (including Rallies), Interviews, Debates, Gaffes, Issue Familiarity issue.


Charisma includes personal magnetism, charm, and good looks. It comes across when campaigning (whether small-scale barnstorming or large-scale rallies) and also can be capitalized upon for ads or even televised debates.

How it works in the game: affects Barnstorming (including Rallies), Debates, Ads, Fundraising, Speeches, Interviews.


Definition: Stamina is personal energy and work ethic. It is not only the ability to work, but the inclination to do so.

How it works in the game: increases Energy Points per day.


Definition: Debating is the intuitive or trained ability to debate in various formats like televised debates, interviews, town halls, or even dealing with tough questions while barnstorming or hecklers.

How it works in the game: affects Barnstorming, Debates, Interviews.


The Ideologue rating affects the likelihood a computer player will enter the primaries if Undecided, and stay in even if they can’t win.


Ambition affects the likelihood that a computer player will enter the primaries if Undecided.

13 thoughts on “Understanding Candidates’ Attributes”

  1. Great! I’ve been unclear about Ambition/Ideologue so this is really helpful.
    For others, though, I’m wondering if certain attributes affect speeches differently than barnstorming/rallies? I played as a candidate once with almost no Experience, but massive charisma and noticed that their rallies were always major successes but their policy speeches often backfired or didn’t make the news. Just wondering here.

  2. @Mackenzie,

    Whether a speech makes the national news is determined by Spin strength, the issue’s profile, Leadership strength, and Charisma strength.

  3. When might we expect a 2020 campaign, and will it include some of the lesser known candidates like Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson?

  4. @Lucas,

    It won’t include Yang or Williamson initially. If they start polling higher, it will.

  5. @David,

    It’s a good idea – note you can hover over the relevant icons on the Player Info Screen to receive a description of them in game.

  6. Yang pulls 1 percent in a national poll in Monmouth: a tie with Castro and Gillibrand. Two weeks ago, he got 1 percent in a South Carolina poll. Around the same time, Williamson had one percent in California, as did Klobuchar and Gillibrand. So what’s the cutoff?

  7. I believe we’re using 1% nationally as a cut off for evaluating candidates who aren’t currently in the game. Feedback noted – they might be added soon.

  8. Why is there usually such a gap (or even any difference) between these attributes in primaries vs. general, and some don’t have any settings for primary at all?

    Also, is there any difference between “Off” and “On-Not Seeking”?

  9. @David,

    Do you mean in the Editor? Some attributes (Issue Familiarity and Debating) can change in the game more quickly, and this is reflected by possible different values for starting primaries or general.

    ‘Off’ means that the candidate is not included in the game, ‘Not Seeking’ means they are included, but probably won’t actually run.

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