SAN MATEO, Calif., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- After their first presidential debate, Mitt Romney strengthened his "emotional connection" to U.S. voters, while Barack Obama lost ground, a survey indicates.
The Presidential Emotional Connection Study by Motista, a firm that helps Fortune 1,000 companies quantify and act on emotion with consumers, found despite his lackluster performance Obama, the Democratic incumbent, still enjoyed the "emotional advantage" over Romney, his Republican challenger.
"Emotionally connected voters are most likely to turn out for their candidates on Election Day because they feel the candidate impacts them personally," Alan Zorfas, founder of Motista, said in a statement.
Obama's supporters were more emotionally connected to the candidate, and his greatest advantages were measures of coolness, being admired, entertaining and his authenticity, Zorfas said.
"But the news post-debate is that on a single critical factor -- confidence the future will be better -- Romney leapfrogged Obama," Zorfas said.
Romney also gained on other top drivers such as feeling secure, feeling free and feeling independent.
Obama enjoys an edge on other emotional drivers such as happiness and belonging with others.
The Motista study showed that before the Oct. 3 debate, 37.8 percent of Obama Democrats were emotionally connected to Obama, compared with 26.5 percent of Romney Republicans similarly bonded to their nominee. Post-debate, Obama's emotional support was at 36.6 percent while Romney's grew to 33 percent.
Motista surveyed 2,600 likely voters Sept. 24 to Oct. 2, two weeks after the Democratic National Convention and Oct. 4-7 after the first debate.
The report showed 17.4 percent of independents felt emotionally connected to Obama and it was steady at 17.6 percent post-debate, but Romney dropped 10 points among independents -- he was 16.2 percent pre-debate, but fell to 6 percent post-debate.
The survey has a margin of error of 3.98 percentage points.