Ahead of the first GOP primary debate for the 2024 election, Sentient used its true implicit testing platform, Sentient Prime®, to retest the Emotional Appeal and assess attribute associations of the presidential candidates currently leading polls. Results from the inaugural round of our political candidate tracker revealed early-stage voter attitudes, providing valuable insight into Republicans, Democrats, and most importantly, Independents–the majority of American voters. Our findings indicated that none of the candidates tested elicit positive emotional responses in the minds of Independents. After learning how voters felt implicitly, Sentient sought to better understand the cause. This next round of our political tracker provides explanatory data on how Americans perceive the top three presidential candidates prior to any qualifying Republican’s appearance on stage during the 2-hour debate set to start at 9PM EST, Wednesday, August 23.
Sentient’s second readout specifies differences in attitudes toward candidates among political parties and gender. Overall, Independents have an implicitly neutral emotional response to Biden and an implicitly negative emotional response to Trump as shown in Figure 1 above. However, splitting the data by respondents’ gender to look specifically at female Independents tells a powerful story. Independent women feel implicitly positive about Biden (106.5) and DeSantis (108.5), whereas their reaction to Trump is extremely negative (86.7) as seen in Figure 2. Analysis of the attributes most closely associated with these three candidates indicates why.
Voter perceptions of Biden, Trump, and DeSantis were determined by ten standard presidential traits: Dangerous, Effective, Intelligent, Leader, Phony, Selfish, Strong, Too Old, Trustworthy, and Unstable. The data collected proves Independent women think Biden is an effective, strong, and trustworthy leader. However, they also find him to be too old (see Figure 3). In contrast to these views, although Independent women find Trump to be an effective, strong, and intelligent leader, he is thought to be phony, selfish, dangerous, and untrustworthy as well (see Figure 4). Interestingly, Independent women also find DeSantis to be an effective, strong, and intelligent leader. Importantly however, unlike Trump, DeSantis is not perceived as phony or untrustworthy and unlike Biden he is not viewed as too old (see Figure 5).
As we look to the first debate tonight (and anticipate those in the future), these insights are an important consideration for 2024 hopefuls looking to frame their campaign messages and distinguish themselves from their opponents.