Keir Starmer Was the Clear Winner in the BBC Debate With an Affective Score of 53 vs. 41 For Sunak

BBC Head-to-Head Debate, 26th June

Taking into account voters’ emotional response while watching the BBC debate, voters responded more favourably to the Labour leader’s comments on all topics, including amongst Undecided voters, making Keir Starmer the clear winner and his performance more likely to impact voter behaviour effectively

Findings, which if extrapolated to the reception of the messaging across the Election campaign, help explain how the Labour Party has maintained its leadership in the opinion polls to date with little impact from the Conservative campaign registering so far

The final debate between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, leaders of the UK’s two leading parties, before the July 4th election, broadcast by the BBC, was a compelling televised event. It stood out for its emotional engagement, which was 16% higher than the average for UK television, according to Mediaprobe’s analysis. In a post-debate survey, 71% of the viewers rated the debate as Good or Excellent.

Mediaprobe’s analysis, which leverages next-generation attention measurement, shows that Keir Starmer, Labour’s Leader, was the clear winner of the debate, achieving an overall Affective Score of 53 points (out of a possible 100). The  Conservative Leader, and current Prime Minister, on the other hand only achieved a score of 41 points.

Looking only into Undecided voters, Keir Starmer’s performance was also rated more favourably than Rishi Sunak’s. With an Affective Score of 52 points to Mr Sunak’s 43, the Labour leader achieved more impact with this critical audience before next week’s general elections.

While Rishi Sunak’s style certainly stirred emotions with the audience, with a +4% Emotional Impact Score (EIS),  Sunak’s contributions faced a more negative reception overall, reflected in an average likability rating of -0.25, in contrast to Starmer, who garnered a more positive evaluation with a rating of +0.19.

Keir Starmer stood out in a post-debate survey with 61% of viewers identifying him as the night’s standout, rated higher than Sunak in charisma. Starmer outperformed Sunak across topics like Economy and Integrity, with a notable difference in closing remarks. The audience favored Starmer’s policies over Sunak’s plea not to “surrender to Labour”.

About Mediaprobe’s Affective Score: the Affective Score is a metric that combines the Emotional Impact Score (how much a moment, speech or intervention emotionally engaged the viewers) with the dial evaluation (how much the moment is positively or negatively rated). This metric allows us to understand if each moment impacted the audience positively or negatively, quantifying that impact. All candidates’ interventions Affective Scores are ponderated according to the amount of time each candidate spends discussing it. The Affective Score runs from 0 to 100.

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