I was listening to a political pundit on the radio yesterday comparing the second presidential debate to a boxing match: “Obama won on points!” Indeed, he may have, but not all punches are created equal. So, which punches really connected with voters? Which candidate connected with Americans on the strongest emotional drivers that really motivate people to go to the polls?
For Obama: We see him scoring meaningful points on firming up his base. Going toe-to-toe, he reinforced his support of women’s issues, Hispanics on immigration and—in a tussle in the corner with Romney—he quipped that his investment portfolio wasn’t as big as his. Helping average middle-class voters feel Obama is one of them. Obama connects with voters on belonging, reflects my lifestyle and happiness. And, he edges out Romney on the strong emotional driver good for society. Obama has been a “movement” since the last election. He likely connected on some of those themes and solidified his base.
For Romney: While Republican media voices wished Romney had been more aggressive on the administration’s handling of the embassy terrorist attack in Libya, that may not have moved the needle that much with independents or undecided middle-class voters. Romney’s shining moment was in the earlier rounds where he pummeled Obama’s record and tied his plans and priorities to another key emotional driver: confidence that the future will be better. Americans expect tomorrow to be better than today. He explained how the budget deficit, unbalanced trade with China and ability to grow the economy would impact income and opportunities for the middle-class. He added, “It shouldn’t have to be this way.” This approach and sentiment might just hook some of those undecided voters to Romney’s corner.
So, any knockout punches? No. Which candidate will be most successful building emotional connections with voters in the coming weeks? Motista will again be surveying likely voters in the coming days and will be looking for shifts in emotional connections that drive turnout and may decide the election.
We’ll be following the trends so stay tuned for Round III.
Download the latest Presidential Emotional Connection Study at Motista.com