Emotion Research Lab anticipated Argentina’s election results


Electoral communication’s analysis by facial recognition technology discovers the importance of candidate’s emotions unconsciously transmitted to voters that finally decide their vote. Sadness, surprise and fear have dominated Scioli’s expression pointing resignation and lose control of the situation. While Macri has conveyed happiness with anger and fear, denoting superiority and trust.

In the analysis we have done in Emotion Research Lab using facial recognition technology of emotions applied to the debate on November 15 that pitted Mauricio Macri and Daniel Scioli, we predicted the victory of Mauricio Macri on Daniel Scioli for a small difference, as this has been seen after 99% of the votes counted. Mauricio Macri (Cambiemos) is the new president of Argentina, after winning by a narrow difference to Daniel Scioli (Frente para la Victoria) by 51.4% to 48.6%. Contrary to what the polls predicted, Macri won by less than three points, just over 700,000 votes in a country with 32 million people called to the ballot boxes. It is much less than surveys predicted, which already were wrong in the first round where they gave a comfortable victory to the successor candidate of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Daniel Scioli, and that did not end that way. On November 22, some surveys even believed that Mauricio Macri lead his opponent in twelve points in the second ballot, something that with the analysis of emotions, Emotion Research Lab said that could not be like this.

Studies based on traditional surveys were wrong in the first round and they were wrong again in the second one. They prediceted a bulkiest Macri’s victory.

Emotion Research Lab analysis


In the analyzed debate, Scioli showed insecure and resignation. Aware of his distinct disadvantage in the polls, he based his dialectic primarily in the attack and few proposals made mingled at all times with reproaches to Macri. Still, Scioli did not attend the first debate and the last one on November 15 served him to reduce the difference points against Macri, who had lack of credibility moments during the confrontation. But Cambiemos’ leader had best emotional activation and he transmitted increased security, which has finally had a mark on the voters.

Unknowingly candidates transmit emotions in both the campaign and the debates, which are perceived by the electorate and they turn out to be decisive to opt for one or another candidate. Emotion play a key role in decision -making. People, compared to the ballot boxes, evoke feelings, and those feelings are what motivate their voting decision.

 Emotional connection is more evident in elections like this with a second round and it is part of a high percentage of undecided. In these cases, rational argument does not work.

Undecided voters have been one of the key factors in the second round to elect the President of Argentina. While before the first round polls gave a percentage of undecided up to 20 %, last pre-ballotage polls, pointed “number of undecided is still high, between 4% and 11%, and blank votes and participation will also be decisive“. It was expected a mobilization of undecided and it was like this. Although not very sharply, participation has increased and blank and null votes has lowered, a mobilization that Macri has largely capitalized.

  Campaign on emotions

In Emotion Research Lab we have monitored the campaign since its beginning and we can see how emotions have defined the communication of each candidate and the perception of voters. After making a comparison based on the facial emotion recognition candidates during the second round before the 22/11 public appearances and in the week of 25/10 (after first round of presidential elections) and we have obtained comparisons that help to show how the forecasts were accomplish and how facial recognition of emotions, after studying different political speeches of both candidates, had correctly predicted Mauricio Macri’s victory.


 Most varied emotion at Daniel Scioli‘s speech from the first week to the second after the second ballot, was the fear. During the first week, Scioli showed a speech with large spikes of anger and surprise that despite continued in the discourse of the second week, they lost force for fear, as it is seen in the graph. Fear won an important role in his speech that became more aggressive while the elections on November 22 approach. When all the surveys gave Macri a win, Scioli decided to risk and negative emotion deepened. He achieves to close to his opponent, but not overcome him.


Instead, most varied emotion in Mauricio Macri‘s speech from the week of 25/10 until the week before the runoff, was happiness. During the first week, Macri showed a speech with high peaks of surprise and anger when discussing Scioli’s proposals. But this surprise veered in favor of happiness to discuss his proposals thus transmitting a coherent positive message. In the pre-election week to define elections, he stopped displayed as a “victim” even giving a touch of humor to his speeches. This happiness of the last week, mixed with anger and fear, managed to convey honesty, sincerity and awareness that the country can be improved with the change he proposes. In the last stage of the campaign, where Mauricio Macri’s strategy was no longer primarily inciting vote, he tried to be cautious in his television appearances not to take risks that jeopardize it.

Argentina’s historic elections have shown again the limitations of traditional research in electoral  and opinion studies. This campaign and the study we have conducted demonstrate the importance of taking into account the emotions both in achieving more reliable predictive studies and the ability to connect of new political leaders. Decision making always born of the subconscious emotion. Rationalization only serves after to justify that decision. Emotion Research Lab provides access to the original emotion.

María Pocoví

Emotion Research Lab’s CEO