For the last seven weeks, Motista has been quantifying the emotional connection voters have with the two Presidential candidates. We fielded our survey just after the conventions, after the second debate, and again last week, after all the debates were completed.
The results are startling.
Even though President Obama was widely seen as “winning” the last two debates, Mitt Romney has been building on his emotional connection to both independent voters and his GOP base supporters at an accelerated pace. While President Obama has strengthened his emotional ties to voters as well, especially with his base, his gain has been a fraction of Romney’s.
Every day the news media reports on dozens of polls tracking the “movement” of voters in swing states and nationally in favor of one candidate or another. Sadly, the discussion is no more insightful–or predictive–than all the hoopla the week before the Super Bowl.
Rather than survey what voters are thinking, based on what the talking heads say, what they see in the political ads, or what the candidates are saying on the stump, Motista has turned the lens onto the voter to ask “what really matters to you?” Looking at the emotional connection the two candidates have with the voters offers some fresh insight and meaningful data.
It turns out, voters become emotionally connected to a candidate when they believe their vote for that candidate will result in a better future, a better life for their family, connect them to a community, and make them feel more secure. And when voters connect to a candidate on these emotional factors, they are much more likely to get out and vote on Election Day.
For instance, nearly 90% of emotionally connected voters say they will “definitely vote” for the candidate on Election Day. Among voters who find their candidate qualified to be president but don’t feel that emotional connection, 60% of them will “definitely vote” for the candidate. And, if they’re still uncertain of the candidate’s essential qualifications, that number drops to 13%.
So, as emotional connection strengthens, voting outcomes will be determined.
Motista has identified the Top Seven Emotional Drivers of Voting Intent to gain insight into what will really happen on Election Day. Here’s what you should know about how Obama and Romney are emotionally connected to the voters:
- The candidates are statistically tied among independents.
- But after the second debate, Romney’s scores grew 10.6% on average while Obama’s only grew 2.4%. That’s more independent voters moving into Romney’s camp.
- Comparing their emotional connection to their base supporters, Romney now has a stronger connection to his base than Obama on all seven emotional drivers.
- Romney’s emotional connection scores with his party base increased on average 13.6% vs. Obama’s 3.3% after the second debate.
Behavioral Metrics Show Romney Momentum
We also look for “behavioral hints” to what might happen on Election Day. Emotion = Behavior. Let’s take one measure of advocacy, “I forwarded information about the candidate to a friend or family member in the past 30 days.” After the second debate, our survey found that 37% of Obama’s base said they forwarded information about the President, compared to only 31% of Romney’s base. After the third debate, Romney leapfrogged Obama. Now, 44% of Romney’s base are advocating for him actively vs. 31% of Obama’s. This kind of advocacy behavior is a much more powerful indicator of what might happen on Election Day.
All said, Romney has significantly closed the gap and should be happy with these trends. Even though Obama has strengthened his emotional connection to both independents and his base, it has been at a slower rate.
To look at our final campaign survey results in depth, click here.