Nearly Half of Americans Say Presidential Candidates Lack Influence

Study shows 45 percent doubt even their preferred candidate can influence change

PROVO, UT—April 1, 2008—A study conducted by the authors of a new bestseller on influence found that despite candidates’ battle cries for change, nearly half of Americans don’t believe the current presidential hopefuls have the power to change the issues that matter most to them.

Specifically, the three most pressing issues respondents don’t believe candidates can change are terrorism, global warming and the federal budget deficit.

The survey of 580 respondents also uncovered which front-runners voters believed would be most able to achieve his or her position if elected to office. Here’s how the candidates ranked:

  • Barack Obama: 32 percent
  • Hillary Clinton: 28 percent
  • John McCain: 27 percent

Joseph Grenny, coauthor of Influencer: The Power to Change Anything (McGraw-Hill), says Americans’ cynicism toward the current presidential candidates is a result of society’s inability to influence change.

“Influence is something everyone struggles with, and powerful politicians are no exception,” Grenny says. “Candidates will need a lot more than inspiring rhetoric and track records of success to convince voters they can effect real change.”

Grenny’s new book, Influencer, teaches that creating change requires more than throwing extra resources or more money at problems.

Grenny traveled the world to study influencers who solved major world problems such as: preventing more than five million cases of AIDS in Thailand; eradicating a debilitating disease in 11 countries in Africa; and rehabilitating more than 14,000 hardened criminals. Some of these influencers had political power behind them, most did not. But one thing they had in common was that they used the same set of powerful skills to bring about profound change.

“The good news is it is possible to change persistent and resistant problems,” says Grenny. “As soon as our political leaders can acquire the skill set to assemble an influence strategy as big as the problem they’re trying to tackle, they will make change in this country inevitable and increase voters’ confidence.”


About VitalSmarts

An innovator in corporate training and organizational performance, VitalSmarts is home to award-winning training products that deliver powerful tools that enrich relationships and improve end results. The company also has three New York Times bestselling books, Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, and Influencer. VitalSmarts has been listed twice on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies and has taught more than two million people worldwide.

Note to editors: Joseph Grenny, coauthor of, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, can share with your readers/viewers the common skill set used by the world’s greatest influencers to solve profound problems. Fact sheet with details about the skills available upon request.

About the research: The study collected responses via online survey tool from more than 580 individuals. Margin of error is approximately 3 percent. Full survey results are available upon request.

CONTACT: Brittney Maxfield of VitalSmarts, L.L.C. +1-801-724-6272, or

graphic displaying the 5 most pressing problems no one candidate can change

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