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Study: U.S. Voter Behavior Dominated by Relief and Disgust

Study on the presidential election, conducted by NayaDaya, YouGov, and Statista, shows that U.S. citizens will vote to prevent the undesirable from happening.

The study reveals emotions and behavior of U.S. citizens, evoked by the election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence or Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The most chosen emotions are relief, disgust, fear, and disappointment – distribution varies between candidates.


“For U.S. voters the election is mostly about avoiding an undesirable result, not about being emotionally uplifted by the candidates,” says Marcello Mortillaro, Ph.D and Senior Scientist, Partner of NayaDaya Inc.


The most chosen emotion for Trump’s re-election is disengaging disgust that indicates violating voters’ moral standards. Pence is Trump’s reflection: His re-election evokes even more disgust but overall less emotions. In Biden’s case, the most common emotion is relief, implying avoidance of a threat.


Mortillaro explains: “As for Biden, almost half of Democrats feel relief, a positive emotion with a low engaging impact. Harris is unlike Biden. She arouses positive, engaging emotions of pride, admiration and joy.” Among Republicans, disgust and fear are the strongest emotions toward both Harris’ and Biden’s elections.


The NayaDaya® Emotional and Behavioral Intelligence, which is based on scientific research independently conducted by the University of Geneva, Switzerland, was used to analyze the U.S. voter emotions.


Voter emotions predict voter behavior and engagement – percentages for loyals are

• Trump 32 %

• Pence 27 %

• Biden 45 %

• Harris 42 %


Among the young (18-34), 47 % are loyal to Biden, 27 % to Trump. Among the African-Americans, 58 % are loyal to Biden, only 13 % to Trump. More than a quarter of respondents are not in favor of Democrats or Republicans; 31 % of them are positively engaged in Trump, 37 % in Biden.


“In the context of significant phenomena like presidential elections, emotions are our key to understanding different perspectives and their behavioral consequences. Through data, insight, empathy, and impact we empower responsible leaders, media, brands, and organizations to thrive and shape the world,” says Timo Järvinen, CEO and Co-founder of NayaDaya Inc.


Study facts

  • Data was collected as an online survey through the YouGov panel in the U.S. Sept 2-4, 2020

  • The quota sampling was implemented on the basis of age, gender, and geographic location to represent the overall U.S. adult population

  • Other variables are race, education, income, marital status, social networks, and party preference

  • N=1265, margin of error ±2.5 percentage points

Download the free report with some key findings.


Get the premium report and data


The premium content (56 pages) includes
 the free report plus

  • Positive or negative valence for each candidate

  • Emotional Value Index for each candidate

  • Behavior matrices with emotions and percentages 
for each candidate (loyals, passives, leavers and adversaries)

  • Emotion profiles and meanings for each candidate

  • Behavior matrices and emotion profiles for sub-groups and each candidate (political party 
preference, gender, age, race, education,
 income, Twitter users)

  • Behavioral analytics and data with details and diagrams (Microsoft Excel format)

  • Emotion data with all variables: Gender, age, geographic region, race, education, marital status, parent or guardian of any children, annual income,
 social networks memberships, political 
party preference (Microsoft Excel format)

Further Information

Timo Järvinen, CEO, NayaDaya Inc., timo@nayadaya.com, tel. +358 40 505 7745

Timo Salomäki, Head of Global Growth, NayaDaya Inc., tel. timos@nayadaya.com, +358 40 709 2399


NayaDaya Inc. uncovers the emotional and behavioral influence of brands and phenomena. Through data, insight, empathy, and impact we empower responsible brands, organizations, and leaders to thrive and shape the world. News, data, and further information at www.nayadaya.com.

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