While watching debates, we listen to what the candidates are saying, but we also assess their body language and tone, much of which we digest subconsciously.
We can see that Sen. Bernie Sanders gets uneasy talking about gun control, while Donald Trump gets uncomfortable when pressed, but rarely looks stressed.
A new phone app called ShareCare helps users understand stress levels, or as CIO Erik Feingold puts it: “it helps you understand your heart.” It is now being used to quantify candidates’ speech and tone during primary debates.
Basically, the app uses fractal patterns to visualize voices; ShareCare can then create a candidate profile based on different patterns.
Choosing especially contentious clips of the past two debates, here is what the data tells us about how the candidates were feeling during testy debate moments.
When guns came up in Sunday’s Democratic debate, and Sanders had to defend his record, the app measured his mind-set as “intense” and his stress level as “uncomfortable.”
In contrast, when Hillary Clinton addressed Sen. Sanders’ voting record on guns, her voice was calm and showed low levels of stress. There is no doubt these readings reinforce what many voters had already understood about Sanders’ position on guns. He knows he needs to move farther left on guns to appeal to a majority of Democrats. He has done that.
ShareCare also analyzed the speech of five Republican candidates in their debate last week.
Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump showed low levels of stress throughout heated exchanges. One could say they’re more comfortable with confrontation.
On the other hand, the two Florida-based candidates, Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, start in the “productive” mind-set but quickly begin to exhibit signs of discomfort, irritation and nervousness when pressed on their statements.
Being mindful not to extract too many generalizations from this sparse data, a pattern does start to take shape in the Republican primary race.
Candidates who claim, and often seem to have a better grasp of the reality behind debate questions, have a “productive” mind-set before drifting into irritation and discomfort. At that point, they inevitably end up discussing the absurd policy prescriptions that are ruling GOP debates.