Why an Honesty Poll Shows an Advantage to Trump, Disadvantage to Clinton

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a event with The Remembrance Project, Sept. 17, 2016, in Houston. PlayEvan Vucci/AP Photo
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Donald Trump is currently tracking as the more honest of the two presidential candidates in a poll, although fact-checking of his statements during the campaign have shown he's lied several times.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll reports that 46 percent of likely voters believe he is the more honest and trustworthy candidate, while 38 percent believed it was Hillary Clinton.

This marks the biggest gap between the two candidates in five ABC News/Washington Post polls that asked the question, beginning in May.

The tracking poll results also contrast with the facts: fact-checking group Politifact, which determines whether statements made by the candidates are correct, classified 71 percent of Trump statements they checked to be mostly false, false, or "pants on fire."

The group found that 24 percent of Clinton's statements they checked fit into those categories.

Hans Noel, an associate government professor at Georgetown University, told ABC News that while honesty has "been among many criticisms" for Trump, he has successfully worked around it.

"For supporters, he has cultivated a reputation for not being politically correct," Noel told ABC News. "Those who hate political correctness hate it because they think it means people can’t say what they really mean, or 'the truth.' So his appeal is built around that."

"For Clinton, honesty has been central to the main line of attack against her," he said. "So if you’re at all inclined to not like her, honesty will be one of the things you’d think of."

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton talks with aide Huma Abedin before speaking at a neighborhood block party in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, April 17, 2016.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton talks with aide Huma Abedin before speaking at a neighborhood block party in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, April 17, 2016.

The FBI's announcement that they are investigating emails allegedly connected to Clinton's private server from her time as Secretary of State has likely had an impact, Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said. But it may not last long.

"One of the things we've seen in the last two weeks is huge swings," Galston told ABC News. "In that same tracking poll, Hillary Clinton was ahead of Trump by double digits just last week. Clearly there's a fair amount of volatility in the electorate and it's responding to one stimulus or another."

"The volatile portion of the electorate reacts strongly, but the effect of the most recent event tends to fade over time, whether it's Trump behaving badly in a presidential debate or Hillary Clinton getting bad news courtesy the Justice Department.

"I would not be surprised to discover today is roughly the bottom of the slide," he said.

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