The Emotional Intelligence on the Presidential Candidates Tracker | October 2023

By Aaron Reid
October 27, 2023

Can one of Trump’s Republican opponents secure the vote for the GOP nomination, or are we gearing up for a rematch of the 2020 election?

Given poll standings, for the third readout of our Implicit Appeal tracker we elected to focus primarily on attitudes toward President Biden and his top opponents: Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Mike Pence. After recruiting thousands of voters across the country during the month of September, the results are here.

Our Findings

Despite his absence from the past two debates, Trump is still the most well-liked candidate among his party. In fact, he is gaining traction in both explicit polls and our Sentient Prime Implicit Appeal exercise. In July, Trump was trailing Biden with a score of 105.4, but is now his equal at 110.5 (Figure 2).

Among Southern registered Republicans this positive association is only amplified (118.9). As a comparative benchmark, these scores are so high that they surpass the average emotional response to birdsong (109.8). However, it’s important to note that Trump’s Appeal scores for Democrats and Independents have decreased over time reinforcing the polarized feelings around his candidacy. Meanwhile, Biden has stayed relatively consistent. Since July, preference for Biden among Democrats has moved from 108.6 to 110.8, with a high of 118.7 among the Northeast.

Splitting the data by age and gender reaffirms the strength of these 2024 opponents. We found:

  • Republican voters of all ages show a preference for Trump over other candidates.
  • Emotional Appeal for any candidate is strongest for Trump among Republican women (114.7); Democrat women have strongest Appeal for Biden (113.7). No other candidate has a positive score among women.
  • Among Republican men, DeSantis (107.1) and Trump (106.0) score similarly high on Emotional Appeal.
  • Democrat men and women both rated Biden with the highest Emotional Appeal scores (113.7 Women, 104.7 Men), but Biden has lower Appeal among Democrats across genders than Trump does among Republicans across genders.
  • Biden’s high Appeal is likely driven by the Democrats in the Northeast (118.7) and Sunbelt (120.6); his score is negative among Western Democrats (82.8).

While Trump and Biden are leading the race, we discovered the other contenders do have some fans. Haley and Ramaswamy have been trending up since this summer. Ramaswamy, who at one point didn’t even rank top five, now has the highest Appeal among Independent men (105.1). But Independent women—and the group as a whole— don’t have a strong preference; like past rounds of the tracker, they have a negative emotional response to all candidates. Both Biden and the Republican nominee will have to work to earn their vote prior to Election Day in 2024.

Stay tuned as Sentient will be posting insights found after the third Republican debate coming November 8th in Miami, FL.

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Aaron Reid


Founder & CEO, Sentient Decision Science, Inc.



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