Gauging Presidential Candidates' Stress Levels in Debates

The new Sharecare voice analysis app shows how the Republican and Democratic candidates handle the heat during the debates.

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Sharecare's newest app uses special voice analysis to help people better understand their stress levels – and how to manage them. The stakes have been high this past election season, and we’ve been using the technology to see what presidential candidates’ voices reveal about their stress levels during debates and as votes come in. Check out the data below for a fascinating summary.

Trump Addresses Negative Advertising

Republican candidate Donald Trump begins his victory speech in an intense mindset. He starts off by applauding Marco Rubio for running a tough campaign. He then transitions into talking about himself, saying that no one “in the history of politics” has ever received the type of negative advertising that he has. As he broaches this topic his mindset is productive, but turns to rising impatience as he continues.  

Rubio On Suspending His Campaign

Rubio, a Republican candidate who just dropped out of the race, begins speaking in a productive mindset. He remains productive as he talks about the end of his campaign, but then revs up to intense impatience when urging followers to fight for the future of the country as a whole.

Clinton Calls Out Trump

After her victory over Bernie Sanders in Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton shows a very intense mindset as she addresses a crowd. During this portion of her speech, she exhibits high levels of irritation and impatience when talking about Donald Trump’s plans. 


Past Debates 

Sanders on Election Results

Sanders starts off uneasy when explaining that his loss is not as big a deal as it may appear. He then switches to fight mode when promising to win "many hundreds of delegates" by the end of the night.



Trump Talks About His Wins

Throughout Trump's speech, his mindset is gauged to be calm and productive. He is back to being his low-stressed self, which may be attributed to the fact that he is winning again.



Clinton Calls for a "Whole" America

After her wins on Super Tuesday, Clinton gets to the podium and begins her talk with an intense mindset. She goes from impatient to irritated when mentioning that America has never stopped being great (in reference to a familiar Trump slogan) – and what America really needs is to be made whole again.


Rubio Rallies Against Trump

Rubio commences his speech with an attack on Trump, shooting his stress level to the intense irritation range. As he continues to speak about Trump, he talks about how excited he is. But in spite of his professed excitement, he displays extreme nervousness, unease and anxiety as he discusses what lies ahead.



Cruz Requests Unity

When addressing all Republicans, Cruz's mindset is both uneasy and intense. He then shows impatience and discomfort when calling on other candidates, as well as their supporters, to unite with him. 


Ted Cruz on His Sister's Drug Addiction

In what some might call the most powerful moment of the debate, Senator Ted Cruz shares the story of his sister's struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. His stress levels climb from intense impatience to irritation, and his "fight" mindset may provide a glimpse into his views on personal responsibility. 



Hillary Clinton on Campaign Finance

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shows intense stress and impatience when confronting the attack she perceives from Senator Bernie Sanders.  She changes to discomfort when she discusses donations she received from Wall Street, and her statement about "never changing her viewpoint or vote because of donations received," ends on a note of anxiety.

Bernie Sanders on Campaign Finance

Sanders' stress levels show irritation when he claims that Republicans do not accept the idea of climate change. He then moves into intense stress when asserting a need to transform our energy system. Sanders ends in an impatient "fight" mode when bringing up the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil donating to political campaigns.

Hillary Clinton on Healthcare

Clinton begins with a productive mindset but reveals discomfort when she says that she and Sanders share progressive goals. However, her discomfort turns to irritation as she describes how she's been fighting for universal healthcare for many years. She again shows discomfort and is measured at "freeze" mode as she talks about her desire to avoid another legislative debate on the need for healthcare reform.

Hillary Clinton on Progressivism

Clinton begins by showing discomfort when describing Sanders as the self-proclaimed gatekeeper of progressivism. She goes on to reveal intense stress and nervousness as she refers to seeing Democrats work against special interest groups on behalf of, "those who are left behind." Finally, Clinton switches into the “fight" mode when talking about being President and Commander in Chief.  

Ted Cruz vs. Marco Rubio on Immigration

Senator Cruz begins and ends with low stress, using humor to diffuse tension. But his stress levels climb to uneasy impatience when discussing the importance of fighting amnesty, showing that he feels very strongly about this issue. This topic – and not the clash with Rubio himself – appears to be a recurring stress trigger for Cruz.

Marco Rubio vs. Jeb Bush on Immigration

Earlier when Rubio discusses the topic of immigration with Cruz, his stress levels reach a peak of high intensity. However, Rubio has an almost opposite response when broaching the topic with Bush. Instead, Rubio shows unusually low stress when directly attacking Bush on changing his position on immigration. When Bush initially responds, Rubio shows some uneasiness, but he remains calm. 

Jeb Bush on Donald Trump 

When discussing the absent Trump, Bush shows low stress and remains very calm. In fact, the only time he shows nervousness is when he claims that he was the only one brave enough to attack Trump. Interestingly, Bush's low stress during this attack is markedly distinct from his previous, high-stress attacks on Trump when he was present.

Jeb Bush on the Establishment

When turning to the matter of being a part of the GOP establishment and a deeply rooted political family, Bush's stress levels spike. This topic appears to be a strong stress trigger for Bush, and he is uneasy and impatient when discussing it. 

Hillary Clinton on Wall Street

When Clinton discusses the similarities she and Sanders have on their thoughts on Wall Street she’s relatively calm, and is in a productive mindset. It’s when she points out how Sanders has criticized President Obama that she becomes irritated and later impatient, making it a point to show her support regarding his choices regarding the economy during his time in office.

Hillary Clinton on Bernie Sanders’s Voting Record

When it comes to discussing Sanders, Clinton starts off a bit anxious to go into her opponent. That doesn’t last long, though, and her impatience quickly jumps to irritation when talking about his viewpoints with the gun community and NRA, which helps support her stance and what issues she really considers important this election.

Hillary Clinton on Gun Control

There’s no secret to how Clinton is feeling here. The majority of her time discussing the impact of gun violence on the country Clinton is extremely impatient. Her stress levels only dip when discussing how she’s relieved to see Sanders change his position regarding immunity within the gun community, proving that this issue is a vital one for her campaign. 

Proof of Clinton’s strong standpoint goes even further as seen below in a previous debate. While she initially appears uncomfortable bringing up her opponent’s opposite viewpoints it doesn’t last long, and she becomes extremely irritated and even nervous pointing out that vast differences the two of them have had in the past when it comes to voting on gun legislature.

Bernie Sanders on Defending His Voting Record

As Sanders stands up for himself on his thoughts behind gun control policies and voting support for the NRA, he shows high levels of stress and discomfort. As he continues to strengthen his stance against guns his stress levels lower, and when talking about the issues at hand it’s clear this is also a topic that causes him worry as well. 

Sanders sets a similar tone in a previous debate, and while he has levels of anxiety and discomfort setting the record straight on his history with the gun industry here as well, the below shows how his stress levels have increased from past debates to last night’s most recent one when discussing this issue. 

Marco Rubio

The app’s technology shows that Rubio's mindset is in the productive zone when he discusses the war on ISIS, rising to irritated when he talks about the need to destroy the threat of ISIS in our country. And while had a lot to say about President Obama, he became increasingly nervous anytime the subject was broached.

A look into Rubio's stress style when he speaks: Rubio's usually confident when he has a chance to talk about ideology or strategy. He is slower to respond when provoked, but if he does respond quickly, he fluctuates strongly between nervousness and discomfort. Whenever challenged, it appears Rubio becomes logical and looks for answers in the strategy.


On the Topic of Eligibility and the Natural Born American Discussion

Ted Cruz vs. Donald Trump: During this section of the debate, Cruz starts out in low stress when talking about the questioning surrounding his eligibility to run for president due to his Canadian birth, but quickly gets impatient during some back and forth teasing Trump. But when it comes chatting about the polls, Cruz is calm and collected, especially when talking about the numbers being in his favor.

In general, Cruz tends to stay lower on the stress scale, especially when discussing key issues from the moderators. At times he can become impatient and irritated, but when challenged on a topic he quickly turns to data and facts.

Donald Trump vs. Ted Cruz: Trump remains in low stress mode, even when attacking someone. This tends to be his signature behavior. In this instance, data shows that Trump only gets uncomfortable when he has to admit that Cruz's numbers are improving.

Chris Christie

On the topic of a third term for Hillary Clinton, Christie starts off in the productive zone when he discusses himself and the need to align with his allies, and alternately uneasy and nervous when talking about our adversaries.. When discussing issues in Iran, he changes to a flight and anxiety response -- this shows concern and worry, especially when debating the fact that some believe relations have improved in this area. And when it comes to issues with Congress and Social Security, Christie gets worked up quite quickly. His debates often end the same way they began, both uneasy and impatient.

Analysis shows that when stressed, Christie tends to camp out in the discomfort and nervousness realm more often than other candidates. These types of stresses are often associated with social standing, meaning he's more likely to get stressed as a result of disapproval of someone else's social conduct, embarrassment for himself, or on behalf of other people in his group and when he feels that others don't share the same level of interest in what he says or does.

Jeb Bush

Bush shows a productive mindset at first but appears somewhat nervous, as if he may not feel in his element. His discomfort grows to impatience as he discusses Trump's proposed ban on Muslims and particularly the potential response of the Arab world.  


Try the app for yourself! Download the Sharecare voice analysis app here to manage your own stress levels when you communicate with others.