“The predisposition now is to doubt every claim,” he says. That’s true whether you’re selling soap or hope.

But politicians have it worse than most businesses because the electoral process is almost perfectly designed to undermine trust. Campaigns devote a good deal of energy to rooting out and exposing an opponent’s inconsistencies — gotchas that are magnified by the news media’s passion for conflict and controversy. Political ads on TV consist largely of claims that the other person lied, flip-flopped or pretended to be something other than what he or she really is.