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Who influences your opinion regarding politics? Is there a cable news show that you watch on a regular basis? Or do you listen to talk radio? Perhaps your minister or your family members influence your political opinions. It’s more likely that many sources influence you….and some commentators or pundits are deemed more trustworthy dependent upon your own experience.

Spectrem Group, who did the research for The Republican Dream Team of 2016, asked voters who influenced their opinion the most. As you can see below, family members had the most influence on voters followed by religious based organizations. Former President George W. Bush was deemed to be a trustworthy source as well as the National Rifle Association.

The most influential “pundit” was Bill O’Reilly, star of Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor. Somehow, I don’t believe Mr. O’Reilly would consider himself to be a “pundit”. Clearly his motto - “The spin stops here.” rings true for many voters. Mr. O’Reilly, however, does not endorse specific candidates but tries to neutral regarding all of the candidates. (I do have some argument with his charges that Carly Fiorina is merely running for Vice-President.)

The second most influential pundit is a frequent guest on the O’Reilly Factor, Charles Krauthammer. Unlike O’Reilly, Krauthammer has specific opinions regarding many candidates and has received chastisement from candidates such as Donald Trump for many of his comments. It should be noted, however, that Krauthammer is extremely popular with older voters (check out The Republican Dream Team of 2016 for details.) The third most popular TV personality is Sean Hannity. Hannity is generally perceived to be more conservative than O’Reilly and he can sway the votes of 18 percent of voters.

Rush Limbaugh, well known for his daily radio show, influences about 15 percent of voters. Glenn Beck follows him at 14 percent. Sarah Palin holds sway with 12 percent of voters.

Do you listen to your neighbors regarding politics? Seventeen percent of voters indicate their neighbors influence their vote. Sixteen percent will listen to local politicians.

Local politicians? Since I live in the Chicago area I have little respect for most of the Illinois politicians. (I currently believe that Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, should resign.) My co-author, however, is a former politician…so I would let her opinion sway me to some extent.

Who else would you listen to? I frequently listen to many of the pundits cited above. One that was not included is Megyn Kelly. Ms. Kelly also does not endorse candidates but chooses to approach the candidates in a neutral manner. That being said…you can tell when she thinks someone is giving her a spin or if she isn’t fond of a particular candidate (Donald Trump, anyone?).

The individuals and groups identified above may not be powerful enough to sway the election….but they do have influence and smart candidates will do their best to ensure that these “influencers” are on their side.  

Who do you listen to?

-Catherine McBreen

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