Biometric Study Reveals How Presidential Candidates Attract Latino Voters

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Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain can engage and attract Latino voters inside and outside of their respective parties by focusing on several well-defined issues and messages, according to results of breakthrough biometric testing during the first Presidential Debate on Sept. 26

The biometrics offer unique insights into this important population,'' said Dr. Carl Marci, co-founder and CEO of Innerscope Research.

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain can engage and attract Latino voters inside and outside of their respective parties by focusing on several well-defined issues and messages, according to results of breakthrough biometric testing during the first Presidential Debate on Sept. 26.

The study, which was conducted jointly by Telemundo, a leading producer of high-quality content for Hispanics in the U.S. and audiences around the world and a division of NBC Universal, and Boston-based Innerscope Research, measured the emotional engagement of 40 registered Latino voters (20 Republicans, 20 Democrats) by using biologically based signals. It marks the first time that the cutting-edge research methods employed by movie studios, television networks and advertisers to gauge audience response were used to measure the emotional response to a debate between political candidates.

While results confirmed that Latino Democrats are more concerned with the economy and Latino Republicans place greater emphasis on foreign policy, they also found that the participants registered significant emotional engagement to issues, tone and language as used by the candidates. The findings offer insight into ways to cultivate Latino voters, who have emerged as a potential swing vote in states such as Florida, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico.

"The biometrics offer unique insights into this important population,'' said Dr. Carl Marci, co-founder and CEO of Innerscope Research. "Clearly, the safety issues around the war on terror and threats from Iran are more emotionally engaging than the impact of the economy for these voters. There are real recommendations for the candidates based on these results."

Some of the key recommendations include:
In order for McCain to attract Latino Democrats, he should:

  • Present specific arguments against Obama's positions
  • Avoid unfounded critical statements that refer to Obama as uninformed
  • Avoid the "Maverick" or "Miss Congeniality" discussion as the Democrats disengage repeatedly with these comments

In order for Obama to attract Latino Republicans, he should:

  • Avoid arguments that present a direct contradiction to Republican's beliefs about McCain
  • Focus on linking McCain and Bush

"As a leader in innovative research, using advanced technology, we appreciate the importance of understanding an audience, and we take great pride in our abilities to gain better knowledge of Hispanics in the U.S., a crucial part of our population," said Millie Carrasquillo, Senior Vice President, Research, Telemundo. "Our findings support Telemundo's larger mission to educate Hispanics and raise the profile of Hispanic voters in the U.S. during this exciting election year."

Innerscope found that Democrats were more engaged overall during the debate than Republicans. But Republicans showed a dramatic increase in engagement when the discussion shifted from the economy in the first part of the debate to the discussion of the war and international issues in the second half of the debate. When the debate shifted from the economy to foreign policy, Democrats became 34 percent more engaged. In contrast, the Republicans became 107 percent more engaged when the discussion shifted, a more than threefold increase.

Innerscope also found that both audiences had significant moments of disengagement during the debate. In particular, Republicans disengaged with Obama when he contradicted their perceptions of McCain on issues like health care. Democrats disengaged with McCain when he addressed Obama by saying, "You just don't seem to get it" or "that's dangerous."

Innerscope Research partnered with Telemundo in their new, state-of-the-art testing facility, The Pulse Research Center, to gauge the emotional responses of Latinos to presidential candidates by using the test participants' biometrics and traditional self-reporting to examine the impact of candidates. A key advantage of biometric data is that it goes beyond self-reporting and is unbiased by culture, context and cognition. The study monitored all participants using four channels of data collected using a biometric vest with sensors to detect: skin conductivity, heart rate, respiratory response and motion. The data were then aggregated and analyzed to determine the moment-to-moment emotional engagement patterns. The results of the study are based on over 100 million data points from these four channels of biologically based signals related to emotional responses in humans continuously collected throughout the debate.

Forty registered Latino voters between the ages of 18-49 participated in the study, which was conducted in Telemundo's Universal City Walk facility in Los Angeles, Calif. Telemundo's live transmission of the debate was simultaneously shown to twenty Latino Democrats in one room and twenty Latino Republicans in another room.

About Innerscope Research
Innerscope Researchâ„¢ is a revolutionary media research firm that uses a breakthrough, non-invasive biometric approach to measure and analyze emotional response to all types of media. Founded by Dr. Carl Marci and Brian Levine, Innerscope focuses on emotions, the primary driver in consumer and audience choice. Innerscope utilizes advances in neuroscience, biometrics and proprietary software, combining measures of skin conductivity, heart rate variability, respiratory response, motion and eye tracking to provide deeper insight into consumers' media and message consumption. This integrated approach measures beyond self report and is unbiased by culture, context and cognition.

About Telemundo
Telemundo, a U.S. Spanish-language television network, is the essential entertainment, news, and sports source for Hispanics and a leading international player in the entertainment industry with presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. Broadcasting unique national and local programming for the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, Telemundo reaches 93% of U.S. Hispanic viewers in 210 markets through its 16 owned-and-operated stations, 45 broadcast affiliates, and 800 cable affiliates. Telemundo is wholly owned by NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies.

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