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Who Does the Public Trust Less, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

New poll results are dismal for both candidates on the question of honesty and transparency.
Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton speak at the Commander-in-Chief Forum.
Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton speak at the Commander-in-Chief Forum.Reuters: AP

This story was originally published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.

Prospective voters overwhelmingly believe Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton represent a dimming of whatever White House sunlight President Barack Obama casts, according to a new Center for Public Integrity/Ipsos poll.

Only one-in-four respondents consider Trump “honest and transparent” about his financial, business or investment dealings, the poll indicates. For Clinton, it’s about one in three.

Meanwhile, more than half consider Obama honest and transparent.

Such data indicate that most Americans “do not trust either candidate, which is further evidence that 2016 is a battle of the least popular candidates," Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson said. "This election is similar to giving a child the option of either finishing their vegetables or changing their kid brother's diaper."

Ipsos / Center for Public Integrity

Said John Wonderlich, interim executive director for the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation: “It’s certainly a less transparent election cycle than previous cycles. A lot of our political norms are being violated.”

The task of accurately determining what a presidential candidate is hiding falls somewhere between notoriously difficult and darned near impossible.

Click here to read the Center for Public Integrity version of this story.

To repurpose a statement once made by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: “There are known knowns … there are known unknowns … there are also unknown unknowns.” From private email servers hidden in bathroom closets to cockeyed medical documents written in haste, voters can’t be faulted for wondering what wacky, wild or troubling unknowns will next be known about Trump or Clinton.

Election Day is Nov. 8. In the meantime, there are several ways to measure — and draw conclusions from — the degrees to which Clinton and Trump have this year exposed their histories, finances, political operations and governing goals to public scrutiny.

A Center for Public Integrity analysis reveals a mixed record for both Clinton, whose campaign answered questions for this article, and Trump, whose campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

But head-to-head, Clinton usually — but not always — bests Trump in transparency issues that have direct bearing on their presidential campaigns.

The Center for Public Integrity graded Trump and Clinton on their transparency in nine categories: health records, tax returns, campaign money, personal financial disclosures, website information, social media, philanthropy, press access and other campaign-related issues, including emails and speech transcripts.


The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.