Political DataViz: Who Lies More – A Comparison (Robert Mann) – UPDATED

UPDATE – October 23, 2016


I have updated my data from the latest data on Politifact.com for my interactive version of this chart that is published on Tableau Public. Click here to go to my blog post about this workbook.



UPDATE – September 21, 2016


I have created my own interactive version of this chart and published it to Tableau Public. Click here to go to my blog post about this workbook.



UPDATE – August 6th, 2016


The author of the chart below, Robert Mann, reached out to me today. Robert has created a website where he explains the methodology he used to create this chart and answer some of your questions.

You can visit Robert’s web site by clicking here.

Below is some information about Robert and his web site.

Best Regards,


The purpose of this blog is to provide accessible, data-driven analysis about United States politics, space exploration, and occasionally other topics. While politics and space might at first seem to be an odd marriage, I find it natural to discuss them together. Our progress as a nation (and as a species) in the 21st century will hinge largely on breakthroughs related to space exploration, and our progress in space exploration will hinge largely on the political choices we make. My approach to everything here is to look at the big picture and communicate with facts. Yes, different opinions and debates are welcome.

In 2013, I graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. My passion for planetary science dates all the way back to my childhood and was reinforced by the Cassini and New Horizons missions. I became interested in politics during the 2008 presidential election, the first in which I was old enough to vote. Having the right to vote — the right to help shape the course of history — is an awesome power that should never be taken for granted. I decided to research the candidates and policy in general, and have not stopped since.

Another hobby of mine is tracking (and sometimes chasing) hurricanes. Although not this blog’s main topic of discussion, I will post any personal hurricane chase videos here. I also enjoy music, traveling, spending time with my amazing girlfriend, and learning about the history of the world.

–Robert Mann


Who Lies More - A Comparison


      1. Bob H

        Great data. Amazed at the research
        I have to read Obama’s third rendering of his life trilogy to see if I agree

    1. MG

      Politifact is a reputable organisation. Something doesn’t lose credibility just because it presents information that contradict your biased opinion. When you refuse to consider that you could be wrong, you lose credibility.

      1. jj

        it’s only reputable if you acknowledge the left bias the site has. it’s a given when all the Republicans lie and democrats are mostly honest. if you truly believe that, you need to lay off the pharmaceuticals…

      2. Chris

        Politifact in fact has been shown to not be credible. Therefore if thus data is from them, its junk data. Bought and paid for by the democratic party I’d wager.

    2. Nate

      That’s actually called cognitive dissonance. That’s you rejecting the truth as it’s presented to you because it doesn’t fit your prefabricated belief. 🖕🏻

    3. Zeb

      I agree, must have rated obama’s 50 quotes from some one asking him. “What is your name?” Which he probably got right 85% of the times asked.

      1. realthog

        And you checked Politifact to ascertain this “fact,” did you?

        Or, oops, no you didn’t — just relied on Breitbart and Fox News for your “information.”

    4. Bill Gates

      What this shows is that reality has a distinct liberal bias. That is why conservatives are working so hard to get rid of it.

      There is a paper by a right wing think tank that claims that Politifact has a liberal bias. This is debatable. If you read the article however, it is not claiming a serious liberal bias that would change any of the results. It is a tiny amount that would not change anything overall. In other words, it is the right wing validating Politifact’s findings.
      This is the study that right wingers site to say that Politifact cannot be trusted. It is typical right wing made to order alternative facts.

    1. A. Pappas

      There is a huge difference in ‘perception’ and ‘reality’; ‘preference’ and ‘conviction’. If my perception is skewed in some way, it is only a mask covering a reality. If it’s a preferance, it is my desire to see in a certain way that convinces me it is true; even when it is a complete lie.

  1. Marcia

    This is sort of irrelevant without knowing what the statements were. I consider myself an independent, but having Hillary and Obama at the bottom means you were looking at statements that have little to no meaning or relevance to running the country, Probably the case with Trump too. Let’s look at what they’ve accomplished, not what they say.

    1. Matteo

      This is just a data visualization that combines all the statements & their ratings into an easily scannable chart. If you want to go deeper all the statements & explanations on why they’re true or not can be found on the Politifact site. Just because the chart doesn’t square away with your preconceived notions of these candidates doesn’t mean the data is wrong. It means you should pause & reconsider your current beliefs.

  2. Melody Streeter

    These political figures have no doubt made many more than 50 statements since 2007 that were vetted by PolitiFact.. How were the 50 statements used in this graph chosen?

    1. Ben A

      I’m pretty sure it isn’t limited to just 50 total statements. It states that it has graded AT LEAST 50 statement from each of the persons noted in the graph. Of the total number of statements X% fall into the noted categories.

    2. realthog

      In order to qualify for inclusion on the chart, the politician must have had at least 50 statements vetted by Politifact within the stated period. The chart summarizes all the vettings for each politician — so it could be 459 from Clinton and 73 from, say, Kasich.

    1. Matteo

      This is the problem with people these days. You just pulled that directly out of your arse. Truthometer rating: Pants on fire.

    1. Adam

      Based on your detailed and transparent examination of the statements? We are waiting for your Pulitzer Prize for your analysis of political statements.

  3. IMissLiberty

    Politifact itself needs fact-checking. In 2008 they forgot to subtract the saved cost of real estate and other overhead when checking Ron Paul’s statement that if we rolled back the budget (I forget how few years) we could afford to get rid of the IRS. And, obviously, even though Gary Johnson was the first candidate for president to be nominated, he isn’t even listed. They haven’t been quick to make corrections when contacted, either.

  4. unarmedandunafraid

    You can fact check the fact checkers. Politifact gives it’s reasoning for grading each statement. You may disagree with a particular judgement about a statement. I have disagreed with them occasionally. But I would assume it would average out with many different statements. Just go to the site and do your own consolidation of data. This is available to anyone, so lying about Politifacts findings would be found out quickly. That is the beauty of open data.

  5. Matthew

    How did you determine the order to list the candidates? I ask because I can’t discern one; the pattern seems generally-correct but doesn’t hold up on close scrutiny. Was it arbitrary?

    1. BobD

      They are clearly ordered by who told the most lies (Pants on Fire, Fake, or Mostly False) in aggregate. Except Palin & Santorum look swapped (albeit close) as do Bidin and Kasich (again, very close). Maybe they slightly weighted the truth (Mostly True and True) as well.

  6. Seamus

    Conservatives outnumber liberals 4 to 1 on this chart. Is that because there aren’t as many liberals with 50+ ratings on politifact, or is there a selection bias that leaves out potentially incriminating left-wing politicians? Some other names that come to mind are Nancy Pelosi, Barbra Boxer, Cory Booker, Gavin Newsom, Harry Reid, and Elizabeth Warren. Some of them seem likely to have 50+ ratings on politifact.

  7. David Bjorklund

    I like the layout of the comparison. But I checked it as of today 7/29/2016. Clinton’s numbers are pretty close to right on. However Trump’s numbers seem exaggerated. Why the difference?
    As of today, Trumps numbers are:
    Pants on Fire: 17%
    False: 37%
    Mostly False: 16%
    Half True: 16%
    Mostly True: 11%
    True: 4%

  8. The Gary Guy

    For reasons not explained, the starting date of this is 2007 (perhaps that was simply the date they started tracking this data). That’s why Bachmann is there but that in itself is curious as to how she’s been out of politics for some time now. Alternatively, Elizabeth Warren has been on the public stage a relatively short time. No idea why Pelosi, Boxer, or Reid and other mentioned are not included, I wish they had been.

    As far as the order, it seems that Robert Mann let the “general trend” of lie/truth set the order and upon reflection it seems that the border of yellow (Mostly False) ad grey (Half True) be the delineator.

    And, for what it’s worth, the reason for more republicans on this list perhaps has more to do with more Republicans lie whoppers than it does with making the list equal.

    1. Matteo

      The reason for inclusion or non-inlcusion is actually very simple. Everyone on this chart has run for president. The only exceptions are Palin & Biden who ran for VP. That also explains why there are a lot more Republicans.

  9. Sandy Swede

    1. Politifact bills itself as an “independent fact-checking” website. Does such a thing exist?
    2. See Seamus post. What are we to believe about an “independent fact-checking” website which lists four times as many Republicans as Dems, virtually all of whom conveniently have been assigned high levels of alleged lie telling?
    3. Hillary Clinton has been assigned one of the two lowest levels of alleged lie telling (the other being the anointed POTUS)? Does anyone not a Cool-Aid drinking Dem believe the credibility of an “independent fact-checking” website which would make such a claim?

    1. 123xyz

      This list included only people who have been announced candidates for the presidential nomination of one of our two major parties since 2007.
      Barrack Obama has been president for the last eight years so there wasn’t only one candidate for the Democratic nomination last year. Also, very many Republicans ran this year, while relatively few Democrats did. So, naturally there are more Rs than Ds here.

      You may remove your tinfoil hat now.

    2. Matteo

      1. Yes.
      2. If you had a brain you’d easily figure out that there are a lot more Republicans because the list includes only people who ran for president since 2007 (or VP in case of Palin & Biden). These levels were not conveniently assigned. They’re based on copious amounts of data which you can find on the Politifact website. I know this is a difficult concept for a right-winger to comprehend.
      3. The irony is that you’re the one drinking the Koolaid so you’re unable to even entertain the idea that facts might show that your beliefs are incorrect. Lastly, Obama was not anointed. He was elected. That last part is where you really give yourself away as being a partisan ignoramus unable to deal with unquestionable facts.

    3. Fidel Cashflow

      1. Check it yourself if you don’t believe it.
      2. Durr, candidates for President since 2007, it says it right in the title.
      3. It’s called independent because it’s not run by Democrats, it’s run by journalists. If reasoned, verified statistics are too liberal for you then I would suggest you quit trying to force the world to conform to your narrow conservative viewpoint, because it makes you look silly. You can be conservative and agree with the facts, those people are generally respected, but to decide that a visual representation of a measurable reality you don’t agree with is simply an illusion is to cut yourself off from reality itself.

  10. Tyler C

    Many times I’ve read sanders page about a false statement only to find it’s a statement OTHERS made about sanders yet it was counted towards his ‘lies’. Give me a break!

  11. Matthew Reichlin

    Ridiculous. If you pick lots of true statements and ignore lies, of course it will come out this way. Besides that, Hillary’s lies ae whoppers. Sniper fire, Bernie supporting Minute Men, voted for diplomacy, voted for Doma to prevent worse laws. All totally cynical lies. Bernies are pretty open to debate, with few if any actual verifiable untruths.

    I do nto object to them listing more Republicans thoiugh. There wre way more republicans running for the nomination, most of whom are on the list. A few other party high ups like Obama and Gingrich for good measure.

  12. Bryan

    To most of those commenting previously: So when presented with verifiable data that contradicts your own preconceived notion of what’s true, rather than reevaluating your own seemingly misguided beliefs, it’s more logical to assume the data is corrupt and there’s some sort of conspiracy? This data is public information, by the way. Has it not occurred to you that maybe there are more Republicans on this list because there are more Republicans that make a significant number of public statements that warrant scrutiny? This list is made up mostly of people who have been involved in presidential elections over the past few years. Let’s also not forget there were roughly 394,000 people running for the GOP nomination this year that spoke during several debates and campaign speeches, so of course there are going to be more of them compared to Democrats. It might be time to reconsider which candidates to support, but I know that basing one’s personal belief system on fact and reason is a difficult concept for some.

  13. Robert Grant

    Donald Smyrl. Not only is PolitiFact not funded by George Soros, it was founded by Walter Annenberg, an Ambassador that served under two Republican presidents, and who was a close friend of Ronald Reagan. The Republicans who can’t take the scrutiny are spinning and making up falsehoods to discredit a fundamentally conservative fact finding group.

  14. (((TonyD))) (@Dogger55)

    This chart does not prove what you think it does. It can’t. But it actually shows something different.

    Politifact does not check all statements or a random sample of statements. They check only controversial statements. If the media reports a dispute regarding the veracity of a statement, Politifact investigates.

    The chart shows only that Obama & HRC are more likely to be validated on controversial statements. In other words, they are more likely to be falsely accused of lying than other candidates. Ironically, the more right-wingers recklessly claim that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are liars, the better they look when the data is aggregated.

  15. Tom

    Interesting that for the completely true segment, palin is pretty high. Second only to John Kasich in this category. Rand Paul is pretty up there too. I’m a Democrat but found that particular part interesting.

  16. jedecker2014

    I see nothing that is meaningful. Just more hot air. However, 1 (one) lie can be enough. Anyone who can look a parent in the eye and lie about how/why their child was killed is out of any further consideration for truthfulness.

  17. Christopher Bowen

    Do you not have the hard numbers, I think it’s just difficult to only look at percents if I don’t know what base those percentages are based on

  18. thetruth619

    lol@ Republicans crying that this data is biased when 6 of the top 10 (least likely to lie) politicians on here are Republican.

  19. KindFoodFarm

    The comments are pretty revealing! This chart doesn’t include all politicians that Politifact has rated. Their data shows that Ben Carson is actually the #1 liar. There are more Republicans because more of them have run for president since 2007. Politifact does not claim to rate *all* statements by all politicians, just the ones whose veracity has come into question. It’s funny some people think it’s a left-leaning site; I’ve read that it’s conservative. Some of the analysis of statements by Hillary and Bernie I thought actually unfair towards them (calling something “mostly true” when it was just simply true, for instance). Everyone will disagree somewhat with their analysis, but I have seen no evidence of systemic bias or intent to deceive. And you can look at each statement and the facts they cite to support their ratings. Just remember, as Stephen Colbert famously said, “Truth has a liberal bias.”

    1. Steve Woodrough

      Why are we looking at data that goes back 9 years to 2007? It seems to me that the relevant time frame for evaluating the truthfulness (accuracy) of statements made by political candidates for the office of President of the US should be the last 2 or 3 years. What would the chart look like if the time frame were collapsed to the period between 2013 and today?

  20. mrtapeguy

    Politifact generally does a decent job in regard to the specific statements they evaluate – but therein lies the rub. Like the assignments editor at a news channel, they pick and choose which ones.

  21. The Gary Guy

    For those who are discounting the data here, would you please read through the information on how and why this was created and AFTER reading that information and data if you still feel that the entire thing is one biased shithole than you just watched Trump shoot someone and felt that it was a setup.
    Politifact is the top source of confirming or discounting claimed statements by politicians. Just because Politifact doesn’t find any basis for the following statement to be true such as “I know more about ISIS than the Generals” from Trump does NOT mean that Politifact is biased. Rather, it just means that Trump makes statements that have no basis in reality. And he does it with great regularity.
    At some point, one must settle on an arbitrator of truth and falsehood. There’s NO indication that Politifact has any tendency to lean to the right or the left, they compare what was stated against what the information available to them that is supported by experts.

  22. John HH

    After laughing at this chart and its author for being way beyound
    Stupid I xame to believe there are people so stupid as to believe this shit.. to think Clinton, Obama and Sanders dont lie is jist beyound belief

    1. realthog

      But the chart shows quite clearly that they do lie — have you perhaps been misreading it? It’s just that they don’t lie as much as just about all of the Republicans, the noteworthy exception being Jeb Bush. Before you deny facts, you should at least face them rather than just kneejerk misrepresenting them.

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