The post-truth election? Comparing 2016 to past elections on the Truth-O-Meter

Hillary Clinton, left, and Donald Trump. (New York Times, Associated Press)
Hillary Clinton, left, and Donald Trump. (New York Times, Associated Press)

We've seen the stories that 2016 will go down as the post-truth or post-fact election. But is that true?

PolitiFact has been fact-checking the presidential candidates since 2007, and through July 2016, we have amassed a library of more than 950 fact-checks of the major party presidential nominees.

We dug into that data to compare the major party nominees for the last three election cycles — 2016, 2012 and 2008. The following analysis looked at statements made only during the campaign (for example, excluding fact-checks from the time Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of state or while President Barack Obama wasn't campaigning for office).

So what does the data show?

That 2008 was a much more honest election than we’re seeing in 2016. Obama in 2008 earned more True ratings than Obama in 2012, and so did John McCain in 2008. Hillary Clinton in 2016 is even farther behind. And Donald Trump has been the most inaccurate of them all.

Statements that are False or Pants on Fire have been on the rise, increasing as a percentage of facts checked for the cycles of 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Among 2016 candidates that we’ve fact-checked at least 25 times, Clinton has been most accurate for the Democrats. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush led the Republicans for most accurate statements.

Trump’s inaccurate statements dwarf those of Clinton. He's been four times more likely to receive a False or Pants on Fire rating.

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