Americans View Obama as Smartest, Most Honest; Evangelicals Don't Think So

A new survey reveals how Americans view the current top tier presidential candidates when it comes to honesty, intelligence, philosophy of government and leadership ability. And who came out on top? President Barack Obama was chosen as the most honest and most intelligent.

The Barna survey, released Wednesday, asked Americans to rate Obama and two of the top Republican candidates – former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry – on those four attributes. The public gave the best ratings to Obama on every attribute except leadership ability.

Nearly half (48 percent) of those surveyed rated Obama's honesty as "excellent" or "good" on a five-point scale; a majority (68 percent) gave the same ratings to Obama on the intelligence factor; and 45 percent found Obama's philosophy of government to be excellent or good.

Romney had the second best scores overall, with 36 percent finding his honesty above average, 57 percent saying the same for his intelligence, and 39 percent viewing his philosophy of government favorably.

Perry came out with the lowest scores on those three characteristics. On honesty, 31 percent gave the Texas governor excellent or good ratings, 42 percent found his intelligence above average, and 32 percent said his philosophy of government was excellent or good.

The three candidates received similar ratings on leadership ability. Forty-six percent gave Romney a positive rating, 42 percent rated Obama favorably, and 41 percent said Perry has excellent or good leadership ability.

While Perry scored the lowest among Americans overall, the Texas governor received the highest scores among evangelicals, the survey found. In fact, evangelicals rated Perry with scores that far outpaced that of the other two candidates on all four attributes. Evangelicals gave Romney, a Mormon, the lowest scores.

Among Protestants, Obama received the best scores on honesty, intelligence and philosophy of government. Perry was close behind on all three characteristics. The two had nearly identical scores on leadership ability.

Non-mainline Protestants rated the candidates a little differently. While they gave Obama the best above average score on honesty, they scored Perry as the best candidate on leadership ability and philosophy of government.

Among Catholics and born-again Democrats, Obama had the top scores.

Born-again adults under 40 gave Obama the best ratings on honesty, intelligence and philosophy of government.

In other findings, only one third of Americans said Obama deserves to be re-elected based solely on his performance as president. Four out of 10 said he does not. A majority of evangelicals (seven out of 10) said Obama does not deserve re-election.

Results are based on a nationwide survey of a random sample of 1,010 adults, ages 18 and older. Interviews were conducted Sept. 8-15. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percent.

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