The emotions of Republican candidates for examination

Political debates have an emotional impact on citizens with the ability to modify the perception that they have about them and potentially influence the electoral outcome.The training in oratory, media training and debate, make the politicians exercise a total mastery of some gestures that contribute to give more meaning to the verbal messages and that are key to any good speaker such as smile and body language. However, at the facial level, this conscious control is complicated by giving us a window of opportunity to know the true emotions of the aspirants through their facial microexpressions that, thanks to technology, we can measure: anger, sadness, contempt, disgust, surprise, fear and happiness. And these are the windows that were opened yesterday during the electoral debate and that have generated an emotional impact that will mark the preferences of the voters.


DEBATE CANDIDATOS REPUBLICANOS USA                 Click on the image to see the video analysis



Mrs. Fiorina a priori showed victim and his face denotes a combination of anger and sadness, which according to Dachel Keltner’s theory of emotions, translates into betrayal, when he declares ‘Every woman knows what Mr. Trump wanted to say’, as shown in the video (minute 1 second 13). After this, Mrs. Fiorina bows-records happiness-when Donald Trump says’ ‘I think she has a beautiful face and she is a beautiful woman’ ‘on the Republican candidate Mrs. Fiorina, of whom days before she had declared’ look that face, do you think someone would vote for you?’


The continuing conflicts between Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, especially on the subject of Iraq, or the Spanish language, transmit tension not only for what they declare, but for their faces. Jeb Bush, in defense, for the legacy of his brother, who claims Mr. Trump to harm him, expresses a face of hatred, the result of a combination of displeasure and sadness (see second 33 of the video). The expression of Mr. Trump, whose strategy is to be energetic against his opponents, is angry, when he orders Mr. Bush to silence and tries to humiliate him by calling him “not very energetic.”


The polls give greater support to mogul Donald Trump in the first place and neurosurgeon Ben Carson in second place. However, last night the protagonism was taken by Mr. Trump, Mr. Bush and the only female candidate, Mrs. Fiorina. The second in intention to vote, barely gained prominence in the dialectic of the debate, fails to position itself due to its lack of persuasion due to a triple factor:

– Lack of participation

– Lack of vehemence

– Absence of personal comments that distinguish it and put it in value in front of its adversaries.

Beyond simple emotions (anger, sadness, contempt, disgust, surprise, fear and happiness), the technology of facial recognition of emotions provides information on relevant metrics such as the level of emotional activation during the speech. In this case, the high energy and participation of Donald Trump compared to the rest is evident in the debate, and, although he tried to retract in some cases as his criticism of Mrs. Fiorina’s physique, some expressions of his face do not accompany to soften this speech That could have been the culprit of the cut in the intention to vote with his immediate opponent, Ben Carson.

There are emotional responses that mark the preferences of the voters and that derive from the emotional impact of the candidates on the citizens.

The importance of the debate translated into moving the intention to vote until the declared moment, from a point of view of perception and credibility based on the emotional expression of the candidates, would first of all make Mrs. Fiorina rise in the polls , Ben Carson would go down and Donald Trump would remain triumphant, although for that we should analyze the facial expression of the audience.

In any case, the emotional reaction of the candidates on their opponents determines the verbal response that they later express in the dialectic of the debate. So important is the management of one’s own emotions, as knowing how to fit in real time the setbacks of opponents.

People vote for the candidate who provokes the right feelings, not the one who presents the best arguments (Westen). Therefore, the treatment of emotions is essential in the overall orientation of the rhetorical discourse whose purpose is persuasion.

Therefore, the exercise of persuading will be incomplete if the candidate does not obtain a feedback of their own emotional context and the way it impacts on others. Do you work the emotional persuasion of your speech? It works for you?

Maria Pocoví