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A new electoral engagement poll conducted by New York-based brand engagement and customer loyalty research consultancy Brand Keys ( places Hillary Clinton significantly ahead of Democratic rival Bernie Sanders and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. This wave of polling, conducted mid-May, found the following overall candidate assessments:

Clinton leading Sanders 88% to 80%

Clinton ahead of Trump (79%) by nine percentage points

The original wave of Electoral Engagement polling in July of 2015 found registered Republicans assessed the yet-untested Donald Trump at 84%. That’s an assessment level that historically indicates a more-than-viable candidate, which – no matter how you feel about him personally –he turned out to be. Now, of course, the real battle for the White House begins.

The new electoral engagement poll numbers were obtained via interviews with 1,500 registered Democrats, 1,450 registered Republicans and 1,350 self-declared Independents drawn from the nine U.S. Census Regions. A difference of 5% is significant at the 95% confidence level. The model is a highly validated process that has been used in every Presidential election since Bill Clinton ran in 1992. It has predicted the winner in every presidential election – with the exception of the 2000 race where George W. Bush beat the predicted winner, Al Gore – an enviable overall 86% success rate.

Polling every presidential election cycle gives Brand Keys the opportunity to recalibrate our measures every four years, just so we know we’re capturing any significant shifts in electoral and voter values like those we’ve seen in every debate, rally and press cycle over the past year.

Electoral Engagement assessments are based on voters’ emotional perceptions of a candidate’s strength versus the voters’ own notions of what an Ideal President (calibrated to be 100%) should be.

Emotional engagement assessments, whether for pizza brands or political parties, measure what consumers think – as opposed to what they say they think, and from an emotional engagement perspective provide the most accurate read to how consumers, or in the case, voters, will behave. This has been the most emotional election cycle voters have seen in a long time, so it’s an important component in the decision process.

Electoral engagement is measured according to four drivers (and voter expectation levels for each of those drivers) that voters use to “define” their Ideal President – on an emotional and rational basis – and then use to compare candidates. The order of electoral engagement drivers and what voters expect vary in terms of what’s important to Democrats, Republicans and Independents, resulting, as you might expect, in different party views, voter standards and candidate preferences. The drivers can be briefly described (alphabetically) as follows:

Action: Does the candidate have a comprehensive, realistic, well-considered plan for solving the problems facing the country?

Compassion: Does the candidate care about all the people?

Perception: Does the candidate have a deep understanding of the problems facing the country?

Resolve: Does the candidate have the strength and leadership to guide the country?

The order of these electoral engagement drivers for Republicans’ Ideal President looks like this:

  1. Resolve
  2. Perception
  3. Action
  4. Compassion

Democrats see their Ideal President as follows:

  1. Perception
  2. Resolve
  3. Compassion
  4. Action

Independents view their Ideal President as follows:

  1. Resolve
  2. Perception
  3. Compassion
  4. Action

While the differences are nuanced, they have tremendous influence in how a voter will behave. For Democrats, the driver with the highest voter expectations is “Compassion.” For Republicans, it’s “Action.” Independents are interesting because they see their Ideal President has having the first-two drivers of the Republican Ideal and the last-two drivers of the Democratic Ideal, with their highest expectations residing in the Perception driver. That explains why Independents are more often likely to vote for a Republican candidate for President yet maintain a certain degree of distance from the two established political parties, and are more “Democratic” when it comes to local elections.

But this year presents a vastly different political landscape for all political parties, so it will be interesting to see where votes end up. That noted, with the electoral engagement votes in, here’s how registered voters rated candidates.

The order of the drivers tells us how voters are looking at their Ideal President. How well a candidate seems to meet voter expectations for each electoral engagement driver is a good barometer for strategy and messaging. But if you look at the candidates’ overall weighted averages, it’s an even better barometer of who’s going to win. Overall Hillary Clinton rated 88%, Bernie Sanders 80%, and Donald Trump 79%.

            Democrats                              Hillary Clinton                                 Bernie Sanders

  1. Perception                                                  85%                                                       89%
  2. Resolve                                                        89%                                                      80%
  3. Compassion                                               83%                                                       87%
  4. Action                                                          94%                                                       70%


Republicans                                   Donald J. Trump

  1. Resolve                                                      85%
  2. Perception                                                89%
  3. Action                                                        79%
  4. Compassion                                             65%

While the individual political party-specific electoral engagement drivers haven’t shifted this election year, expectations have. There has been a great deal of voter value migration and shifts in the traditional political paradigm.

So it might be worth remembering what Will Rogers said: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat,” a statement that might more aptly apply to the Republican Party this year, and a sentiment generally worth taking to heart.

Because whether a political party or a consumer brand, if you are so disorganized that you are unable to meet customer expectations in the right way, you always lose in the marketplace.

Or, as is likely in this case, in the voting booth.


Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

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