November 17, 2022

It’s not Trump’s Republican Party any longer? Don’t be so sure!

Soon after the recent midterm elections, the conventional wisdom from journalists and pundits began to coalesce: extreme MAGA candidates underperformed and therefore the expected ‘red wave’ never made it to shore. 

Meanwhile, Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida and presumed heir apparent to Trump, triumphed by a 20 point margin over Charlie Crist. 

So was the MAGA moment over? Was the party now DeSantis’ to lead? Would Trump delay his planned 2024 announcement?

Of course not! 

Trump announced his 2024 candidacy with a typically aggressive, no-holds-barred speech last Tuesday night. 

Here at Glimpse we wanted to dive beneath the surface to see how voters were reacting to Trump’s announcement. Our approach to gathering and then analyzing natural language responses at scale allows us to understand the emotion, sentiment, and top-of-mind awareness of precisely-targeted audiences incredibly quickly. And our focus on the actual words of voters means that real discovery and novel insights are possible; we don’t stop with the usual line-up of stale polling questions. 

On Wednesday, the day after Trump’s announcement, we targeted 100 Republican voters and 100 Independent voters with a short study. (We already had a pretty good idea what Democratic voters would say!). The results rolled in within an hour and it’s an understatement to say that people had strong opinions about the announcement, and about Trump. 

Here are a few findings from the study:

We started with a simple open-ended question: “What do you think about Trump’s announcement?”

The responses revealed that Republican sentiment was extremely positive, a fact that’s hard to explain if those people were already DeSantis converts:

While Independent sentiment was (obviously!) more mixed but still surprisingly only 39% negative:

Meanwhile the sheer excitement of most Republicans (and some Independents) was palpable. Very few people were concerned about things like “electability” and most people critical of the Trump announcement were already “Never Trumpers,” who persistently focused on Trump’s character, legal troubles, etc. 

When Republican voters were asked to choose emojis representing their feelings about the announcement, they went for ‘excitement,’ ‘optimism,’ ‘hope,’ ‘joy,’ and ‘love,’ with almost no complicating ‘uncertainty’ or ‘surprise.’ People were clearly not as focused on the question of ‘electability’ as pundits imagined they would be.  

There were, of course, lots of Republicans who revealed themselves to be a MAGA diehards in their comments, like this 57 year old woman from Dothan, Alabama: 

But there were also many Independents who seemed ready to vote for Trump’s economic stewardship while simultaneously holding their noses, like this 53 year old woman from Indianapolis:

In fact, when asked, “In your opinion, what will be the most significant outcome for the country of Trump entering the race?” Those who mentioned the economy in their open-ended responses were 100% positive in their sentiment and views of Trump.

And the bottom line? 

When asked, “If you were asked to vote today, which Republican candidate would you vote for?” a combined audience of Republicans and Independents still overwhelmingly went for Trump.

And the Independents still preferred Trump to DeSantis 31%-30%

It’s a long two years until 2024 and time will tell what the ultimate impact of Trump’s entrance into the race will be. But one thing is certain: it’s still far too early to count Trump out. 

Here at Glimpse we believe that listening to the words, emotions, and sentiments of audiences, is one of the best ways to generate actionable and predictive insights about the world. Stay tuned for more Glimpse studies on the American election, global political and economic trends, the vicissitudes of brand performance, and the state of the marketing and communications industries.

Written by Adam Bai.

Adam is Chief Strategy and Customer Officer Glimpse. Adam is a Cultural anthropologist by training, and has created and taught courses on innovation and leadership for MBA and Executive Education students at institutions like Columbia University and the MIT Sloan International Program in Beijing.