Swing Voters Prefer Women for VP Picks on Both 2012 Presidential Tickets

Swing Voters Prefer Women for VP Picks on Both 2012 Presidential Tickets

August 22, 2012

Results from a new survey based on evolutionary algorithms show Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton would have made strong running mates for Romney and Obama 

WALTHAM, Massachusetts (August 22, 2012) — Affinnova, Inc., a leading market research and innovation software and services company, today announced the surprising results of its “Optimize 2012” survey with likely voters. Using the company’s ground-breaking optimization software, Affinnova identified the best possible ticket for each party from more than 100 million combinations of vice presidents, platforms, slogans and candidate images. The surprising results show that the Presidential candidates would have performed better with swing voters by selecting a strong female candidate, Condoleezza Rice for Romney and Hillary Clinton for Obama, as running mates.

Affinnova’s technology has been used for many years to help top global companies successfully launch and market products and services. The same technology was used in “Optimize 2012” by first optimizing the top potential tickets using responses from 1,000 swing voters (August 8-10), and then measuring the potential for success of these tickets using a nationally representative sample of 2,000 likely voters (August 14-18).

The most surprising result from “Optimize 2012” may be the popularity of Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. Among critical swing voters, the Romney-Rice ticket performed better than Romney-Ryan against most alternative Democratic tickets. Hillary Clinton also performed nearly as well as Vice President Joe Biden in all ticket combinations. Interestingly, both women – the only two females to emerge at the top– served as Secretaries of State.

After accounting for the timing of the second phase of the survey during the “honeymoon” period right after Ryan’s nomination, the Romney-Rice combination looks particularly compelling. Clinton’s strength is also surprising given Biden’s incumbency advantage.

Even so, the choice of Vice President is not as critical this year as in the past. Affinnova’s “Optimize 2008” survey showed that the impact of the Vice President selection on the candidates’ image was much greater for McCain and Obama. In 2012, voter perceptions of the presidential candidates are more locked in. If anything, candidates for vice president risk diluting their existing brand.

Among other key findings of Affinnova’s “Optimize 2012” survey: 

  • Obama-Biden win in the popular vote at the current time
  • Ryan is seen as a “people person”, but also a “riskier” pick
  • The election is a referendum on Obama more than anything else. Two-thirds of Obama voters are casting a vote “for Obama”, while two-thirds of Romney voters are casting a vote “against Obama”
  • Unlike in 2008, when jobs and the economy topped all issues, this year’s top issues are well mixed among economy, energy and health care
  • “Obamacare” remains deeply unpopular among many swing voters
  • The two strongest single-word slogans were “Trust” and “Leadership” – voters desperately want these qualities in their President. “Believe” and “Forward” the campaigns’ current slogans were at the bottom of the list alongside “Teamwork”
  • Among the 50 Presidential candidates’ priorities tested, only “stopping the spread of nuclear weapons” made it into the top 15
  • Most voters subconsciously prefer to see candidates wearing a necktie in public appearances, and smiling instead of looking serious

Affinnova’s technology has been used for many years by leading companies in consumer-packaged goods, life sciences, retail and financial services to identify the best performing products, brand messaging and package designs. Recently, Affinnova was named to the American Marketing Association’s prestigious Honomichl Top 50 list of leading US market research companies and named the fastest-rising company on the list in 2012.