CHICAGO, Jan. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Obamacare and immigration are the two issues on which Republicans and Democrats are the most divided, according to research by research and insights agency Shapiro+Raj, the company announced. Republican and Democratic respondents differed in their reactions to different candidates' positions on these issues.
Researchers at Shapiro+Raj, led by Associate Manager Mike Winograd, Ph.D., used traditional survey methods complemented by biometrics to better measure respondents' in-the-moment opinions about eight issues using video statements by some of the leading candidates from both parties in the 2016 presidential race.
Of the eight issues covered—abortion, climate change, gay marriage, gun control, immigration, Obamacare, Social Security and taxes—Obamacare, gun control and abortion elicited the strongest responses from both sides in terms of support or opposition. The majority of respondents also ranked gay marriage and climate change among the least important issues in the upcoming election.
For each issue, Shapiro+Raj used five video clips of Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and undeclared candidate Joe Biden. Republican candidates included Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. All of the clips lasted between 10 and 33 seconds. Clips for each issue were shown in serial with 15-second blank screens between each video clip.
In this study, Shapiro+Raj used a biometric measure known as galvanic skin response (GSR), to measure respondents' perspiration levels, which are an indicator of arousal and emotional reactivity, and applied the results alongside facial coding to determine not only the strength of viewers' responses, but also their comparative reactions.
The findings overall showed that the biometric analysis did not fully align with the survey responses.
"Biometrics have huge implications for the ad-marketing industry because they can be applied to extract more detailed and actionable consumer insights on behalf of brands," Winograd said. "Traditional researchers have known for a long time that what people say doesn't always align with their true beliefs or how they might behave."
For example, aside from his image as Washington outsider, Trump has more moderate, or even liberal, views on some issues. While Democratic voters' ratings of Trump were strongly negative, the biometric findings indicated that when the content of his messages aligned with their beliefs, Democratic voters do not necessarily dislike Trump.
A 2013 clip of Ben Carson referring to Obamacare as, "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery," evoked the strongest negative reaction among some Democratic respondents, according to the biometric analysis. By contrast, Republicans' responses to the Carson clip indicated that they did not find his statement provocative.
"Using biometrics, we can get nuanced perspectives on the emotions of voters and consumers," Winograd added.
For more information about these findings, click here.
Shapiro+Raj is a new strategy and research company for the Insight Economy™, connecting Shapiro's 60-year leadership in research, insights and analytics with new world brand strategy, innovation and ideation capabilities. Shapiro+Raj delivers deep, enduring insights and inspired ideas to help its Fortune 500 clients improve the value of their brands while driving profitable growth of their business. Headquartered in Chicago, the independent firm also has an office in New York.