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  • HCD News Release

Continued Results of the NeuroPolitical Presidential Debate Study: Biden Voters

As President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden faced off on stage for the first time, a consortium of market research companies (HCD Research Inc., Shimmer Research Inc., IVP Research Labs, and The Schlesinger Group) used neuroscience measurement to gauge voter response to the September 29th Presidential Debate. Applied neuroscience, also known as neuromarketing, allows marketers to identify non-conscious response to communications. Biometric practitioners and neuropolitical experts suggest neuro-measures can tap into reactions that voters are often unwilling or unable to express.

We identified key salient moments (when Biden Voters’ physiological reaction was greatest – with the majority of the group experiencing sustained (3+ seconds) increases in both moderate and/or high arousal for a total score above 130/200). The graphs below represent these salient moments where scores were averaged over the salient time periods (3+ seconds, which differ for each moment).

Many voters have known who they are voting for, long before these debates. Expectations of these pre-decided voters are that they will side with their own candidate over the opponent. In fact, going into the debate, the majority of voters who claimed intention to vote for Biden, in our study, also believed that Biden would win and benefit most from the debate. They stated, “I feel the debate skills that Joe Biden possess are greater than Donald Trump’s,” “I believe he (Biden) is smarter,” “Trump will overreact and be perceived as unprofessional,” and “He (Biden) appears more genuine and honest.”

But what would their psychophysiological responses reveal about how they reacted to the live performances of each candidate? Below are the results focusing on the big reaction moments of Biden voters during the debate.

Key Questions About Biden Voters:

  1. What topics did they have the biggest response to?

  2. How did their reactions differ from Trump/Undecided voters?

Biggest Reactions:

Notably, we didn’t see as the same magnitude of reaction from Biden Voters as we did for Trump voters. Where the largest Trump Voter reactions topped over 160 on our scoring, only 1 moment scored over 150 for Biden Voters.

During the segment discussing COVID-19, Wallace asked Trump about holding rallies during a pandemic and about not wearing masks publicly. Trump suggested that all Biden does is wear masks while he only wears them when needed. This evoked the largest reaction from Biden voters for the night as well as a big reaction from Undecided Voters.

Trump says, “When needed I wear masks, I don’t wear masks like him…”

With the Crowd:

Biden voters had a very large reaction, alongside Trump and Undecided Voters, to Biden’s frustration with Trump’s reactions, culminating in his now famous “Will you shut up, man” jab. It’s not clear whether this was a positive or negative response by voters. But given the consensus among all three voter groups in reactivity, it is clear this was a big moment during the debate.

Trump interrupting then Biden says, “Will you shut up, man” followed by more interrupting and Biden says, “This is so unpresidential”

Interruption & Interjections

There was a lot of arguing during this debate that did not follow the debate rules. The candidates interrupted one another which often led to bickering, with most of the interruptions coming from Trump. But how did Biden voters feel about the interruptions and bickering?

Biden voters had bigger reactions to these moments of bickering than Trump or Undecided voters. Both Biden and Undecided Voters reacted strongly to Wallace scolding Trump about the interruptions.

Men arguing then Wallace says, “New segment Covid-19, let’s try to be serious”