Chart: The 2016 Presidential Candidates' Time in Elected Office, Ranked

The current front-runners from each party are not the ones with the most experience in politics.

From left, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Marco Rubio are pictured.

Photographs: Getty Images

In poll after poll, Americans say they want their presidents to have experience.

But what, exactly, is experience, and does it extend to work history outside of elected office? Should, for instance, Donald Trump’s real estate and reality television success count? 

In a 2013 survey conducted by Des Moines Register pollster J. Ann Seltzer, voters said they prefer business experience to experience in any political office. However, Selzer says whether or not experience matters depends on the candidate and how effectively he or she is able to sell what experience they do have.

“It is a piece of the puzzle,” Selzer said. "It is not the puzzle all by itself, and really depending on the candidate’s ability to make the case why he comes to run for the presidency with a unique history."

Although voters say they value experience, the frontrunners in both parties have had some of the shortest terms in elected office. While some of the longest serving candidates have struggled to gain traction in the polls.