The Final Five -- on the Truth-O-Meter

The five remaining presidential candidates are descending on Wisconsin ahead of the state's primary election on April 5, 2016.
The five remaining presidential candidates are descending on Wisconsin ahead of the state's primary election on April 5, 2016.

The presidential campaign’s descent on the Badger State, ahead of the April 5, 2016 primary, provides a good opportunity to see how each candidate has done on the Truth-O-Meter.

Here’s a quick overview, as of March 24, 2016, of ratings on statements made by Republicans Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders:

  • Highest percentage of claims rated True or Mostly True: Three-way tie -- Clinton, Sanders and Kasich, at 51 percent.

  • Highest percentage of claims rated Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire: Trump, 77 percent. Cruz was second, at 66 percent.

  • Trump is the only candidate to reach double digits in Pants on Fire ratings -- 19 percent of his claims got our worst rating.

CANDIDATE

TOTAL FACT CHECKS

TRUE

MOSTLY TRUE

HALF TRUE

MOSTLY FALSE

FALSE

PANTS ON FIRE

Democrats

             

Hillary Clinton

174

24%

27%

21%

14%

13%

1%

Bernie Sanders

78

15%

36%

19%

15%

14%

0%

Republicans

             

Ted Cruz

101

6%

16%

13%

29%

30%

7%

John Kasich

61

25%

26%

16%

15%

13%

5%

Donald Trump

117

3%

6%

15%

16%

42%

19%

 

For a more detailed rundown on each candidate, we’ve gathered five recent fact checks on each candidate based on claims you might hear as the candidates campaign in Wisconsin.

HILLARY CLINTON

1. "Our campaign depends on small donations for the majority of our support."

Rating: Mostly False.

PolitiFact National found that the former secretary of state’s best evidence for this isn’t independently verifiable. Otherwise, Clinton is wrong — small donors accounted for only 17 percent of the dollar amount her campaign has collected from individuals through Jan. 31, 2016 and 19 percent of the dollar amount collected through Feb. 29, 2016.

2. "Americans haven’t had a raise in 15 years."

Rating: Mostly True.

PolitiFact National found that inflation-adjusted median household income had dropped 7 percent over that period, while earnings for wage and salary workers increased a modest 2 percent.

3. "When the auto industry was going under, car parts companies like" Johnson Controls "begged taxpayers for a bailout, and they got one."

Rating: Half True.

Clinton made the claim in a TV ad filmed in front of the company's suburban Milwaukee headquarters. We found that Johnson Controls did push Congress to approve the 2008-’09 federal bailout of the auto makers. But it did not itself get a bailout.

4. Dontre Hamilton, who was killed during a confrontation with a Milwaukee police officer, was "unarmed."
 

Rating: Mostly True.

Clinton made the statement during the presidential debate held in Milwaukee. Hamilton, who was mentally ill and sleeping in a Milwaukee park in April 2014, had no weapon when he was confronted by the officer. After the officer rousted Hamilton and began patting him down, a struggle ensued and the officer used his baton to strike Hamilton. Only then did Hamilton take the baton and strike the officer. That’s when Hamilton was shot multiple times and killed.

5. "Gun violence is by far the leading cause of death for young African American men, outstripping the next nine causes of death combined."

Rating: True.

If "young" is defined as between the ages of 15 and 24, Clinton’s statement was accurate, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

BERNIE SANDERS

1. "The Trans-Pacific trade deal could cost America 448,000 more jobs."

Rating: Half True.

It’s important to understand the number cited by the Vermont senator is an estimate, and it’s the biggest estimate PolitiFact Ohio found. But critics of the Tufts University study say it goes the furthest to predict doomsday figures, without acknowledging offsetting effects.

2. "The Walton family of Walmart ... This one family owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the American people."

Rating: True.

PolitiFact Virginia found that the latest figures, from 2013, support his claim.

3. "If you look at Latino kids between 17 and 20 who graduated high school, 36 percent of them are unemployed or underemployed. … African-American kids are unemployed or underemployed to the tune of 51 percent."

Rating: Mostly True.

Sanders’ general point was correct -- that in an apples-to-apples comparison, African-American and Hispanic youth have significantly worse prospects in the job market than white youth do. But PolitiFact National found that while Sanders had support for this data when he first began using these numbers eight months ago, there’s reason to believe that the improving job market has lowered these rates, at least somewhat.

4. "Almost every poll has shown that Sanders vs. Trump does a lot better than Clinton vs. Trump … and, that’s true nationally."

Mostly True.

PolitiFact National determined that on the numbers, when Sanders made the claim on March 6, 2016, he was right. However, polling experts say such results should be taken with a grain of salt, since polls taken well before the start of the general-election contest have historically not been very accurate predictors of the November results.

5. "NAFTA, supported by the Secretary (Clinton), cost us 800,000 jobs nationwide."

Rating: Mostly False.

There is a report from a left-leaning policy group that reached that conclusion, PolitiFact National found. On the other hand, many other nonpartisan reports found that the trade deal produced neither significant job losses nor job gains.

TED CRUZ

1. Says President Barack Obama has "been presiding over our jobs going overseas for seven years."

Rating: Mostly False.

While the pattern has been occurring under Obama, it is hardly new or unique to Obama, PolitiFact National found.

2. "More than once, I’ve actually had a conversation with the protesters on substance."

Rating: True.

When it comes to protesters, it’s debatable whether Cruz and the protesters are actually participating in conversations. Nonetheless, PolitiFact National found, the Texas senator does usually address their issues. And he repeatedly affirms their First Amendment rights to protest.

3. Says Donald Trump "has said he wants to be neutral on Israel and the Palestinians."  

Rating: Half True.

PolitiFact Florida checked this claim, which Cruz made in the Miami presidential debate. Trump did make that statement during an MSNBC town hall in February. He has repeatedly said that in order to be an effective negotiator, he believes he must approach the two sides with neutrality. But Cruz is omitting Trump’s comments and actions that have shown support for Israel, including that he endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

4. Donald Trump has "described Hillary Clinton as one of the best secretaries of state in history."

Rating: Mostly False.

PolitiFact Texas saw that Trump in 2015 called Clinton the worst secretary of state in history and didn’t find any instance of Trump calling Clinton one of the best ever. Still, Trump previously said he liked Clinton and even that she was doing a good job as secretary.  

5. Says Donald Trump has written 10 checks to Hillary Clinton "and four of those checks were not to her Senate campaign. … It was to her presidential campaign."

Rating: Half True.

PolitiFact National found that Cruz had a point that Trump has made multiple campaign donations to Clinton, but he overstated the amounts. Trump made two donations worth $2,300 (which were eventually refunded) to her presidential campaign and five donations worth $4,100 to her Senate campaign.

JOHN KASICH

1. Donald "Trump got, you know, $1.8 billion worth of free media. I got, like, none."

Rating: Mostly True.

An analysis by mediaQuant measured so-called "earned media" coverage of presidential candidates and assigned a dollar value to them. Trump has gotten almost $1.9 billion in the past 12 months, while Kasich has only $37.7 million. The Ohio governor was exaggerating that he doesn’t get any coverage.

2. "As governor, Kasich delivered the largest tax cut in the nation."

Rating: Mostly False.

This claim in a Kasich ad was an exaggeration, PolitiFact Ohio found. Ohio’s cuts were significant, but when you factor in state population and economic size, Kansas’ reduction may be larger over time. Plus, the size of the tax cut wasn’t entirely Kasich’s idea, since the Legislature made it bigger than he first proposed.

3. "Twenty million Americans are out of work."

Rating: Half True.

Kasich cited a past PolitiFact National fact check. But the calculation done by our colleagues was not intended to determine the actual number of out-of-work Americans. Rather, it was to suggest the highest figure with any sort of credibility as a way of seeing how far out of line an assertion made by Trump was.

4. In head-to-head polls for the general election, "I beat Hillary Clinton by more than anybody, by 11 points."

Rating: Mostly True.

The RealClearPolitics average of recent polls showed Kasich faring better against Clinton than Cruz or Trump (or Marco Rubio, who was still in the race at the time). But focusing on the 11-point margin in his best poll is a bit of cherry picking, PolitiFact National ruled.

5. Says Ohio’s credit rating is "as high as you can get, AA+."

Rating: False.

Kasich said on Fox News that Ohio earned the highest possible credit rating, at AA+. When host Sean Hannity asked about a AAA rating, Kasich said, "I don’t think you can really get to AAA." In fact, you can, and 15 other states currently hold a AAA credit rating, PolitiFact Ohio found.

DONALD TRUMP

1. "When those restrictions expire (in the Iran nuclear deal), Iran will have an industrial-size military nuclear capability ready to go."

Rating: False.

PolitiFact National learned that key restrictions in the deal never expire, including the pledge from Iran to not conduct activities that would contribute to the design and development of a nuclear explosive. And even if Iran were to go all-out for a nuclear program once the 15-year limit on uranium enrichment goes away, it would take months, if not years, for the country to develop a bomb and delivery system so its military could go to war with nuclear weaponry.

2. "During the last five years, Iran has perpetrated terror attacks in 25 different countries on five continents."

Rating: Half True.

Trump had a point that Iran is widely believed to be supporting, or trying to support, armed or terrorist groups in many countries around the world, though the exact number is not known with any specificity outside Tehran. But PolitiFact National pointed out that’s not the same thing as actually perpetrating terrorist attacks, as the New York businessman indicated. Even his apparent source material only referred to activity, not attacks.

3. Under the Iran nuclear deal, "we give them $150 billion, we get nothing."

Rating: False.

Trump referred to the amount of previously frozen Iranian assets the deal releases. To be clear, this is money that already belongs to Iran so we’re not "giving" them anything. The $150 billion is a high estimate, and most experts say the real figure is closer to $100 billion, while Iran is probably only able to access a fraction of that. Moreover, PolitiFact National explained, in exchange for lifting the sanctions, the United States and its allies get to block Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in the near future.

4. The U.S. "doesn’t make television sets anymore."  

Rating: True.

PolitiFact Virginia said it could learn of no televisions on the market that bear the label "Made in USA," a status that requires virtually all of the product to be manufactured domestically. And an expert said it’s "impossible" to build a TV in the United States without relying heavily on imported components.

5. Common Core is "education through Washington D.C."

Rating: False.

As PolitiFact National explained, the Common Core education standards for English and math were unveiled in 2010 after state school officials, nonprofits, teachers, parents and experts settled on broad education goals. Washington was not a player in that game, although Obama has given states that have education standards a leg up when applying for grant money.