If your disappointment in the current choices for President has you daydreaming of an alternate reality with better options on the ballot, a new study from brand consultancy Fidelum has a suggestion for you. (Hat tip to BI.)

How about Bill Gates?

Daydreaming better picks for president

Fidelum touts a matrix for evaluating brands on two critical elements -- warmth and competence. Project both and people admire and trust you, this research-backed psychological theory goes. But if you lack one or the other, you're in trouble. Those whose skills we admire but whose motivations we distrust, engender envy. Those we see as warm but incompetent inspire pity.

A successful presidential candidate should possess both to excel. But according to Fidelum's new survey of a representative sample of just over 1,000 Americans, our current choices are coming up short. Trump and Clinton are seen as having below average levels of both warmth and competence.

So who would the public like better? To find out the survey ran a collection of 18 celebrities past their sample, including sports stars like LeBron James and Tom Brady, TV personalities such as Ellen DeGeneres and Charlie Sheen (who, unsurprisingly, turned out not to be a popular potential pick), and top entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates not only topped the heap of celebrities in terms of the favorable view of the public, but also beat out the current contenders in measures of warmth and competence. He was the most admired of all the celebrities, and perhaps more impressively, he was equally well liked by both Trump and Clinton supporters.

Respondents also rated Gates as the most competent among the famous people, and only Ellen DeGeneres beat him in the warmth rankings. Twenty eight percent of those surveyed even went so far as to say they'd "definitely" vote for Gates.

Imagining a President Gates

Sadly for fans of the billionaire founder (or just those desperate for an alternative to politics as usual), Gates has directly said he has no interest in the job. "I like my current job at the Foundation better than I would being President," he told a Reddit AMA. But that hasn't stopped him from offering those contending for the gig some policy advice.

On his blog recently, Gates laid out four things he thinks the government could do to accelerate innovation and bring meaningful improvements to people's lives. So even though he's definitely not running, he does have something like a platform.

All of which amounts to some pleasant daydreaming about a smarter and more civil alternative reality to this year's foul race. But it also suggests (along with the fact that Trump, with all his limitations and baggage, has gotten so far) that the public is quite open to the idea of electing a successful business leader. Just look at the latest leak from the Clinton campaign showing she considered both Gates and Apple CEO Tim Cook as potential VP picks. Maybe one day the idea will go from fun thought experiment to reality.

If you could convince any famous person to run for president, which non-politician would you most want to throw their hat into the ring?

Published on: Oct 19, 2016
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