Presidential debates are public demonstrations of leadership ability, not policy, and are THE place where the arguable majority of voters who rely on “non-verbal intelligence” decide who to vote for. The more PRESIDENTIAL a candidate looks, the better he does. As I did with the 2nd Debate, I watched this one with the sound off and a text crawl line to try and understand what the debate was communicating to those “non-verbal intelligence” voters.
General impression — This was Obama’s best debate. The CBS moderator Bob Schieffer played it straight. Romney looked Presidential, which was both his goal and his outstanding success.
These are my notes in rough time order.
1. The visuals with Obama and Romney have been more of the same from the previous debates. Romney is more polished and Obama lectures and glares. Romney smiles and engages. Obama seems angry, but has less head up, nostrils showing, arrogance in his visuals. Rinse and repeat.
2. The visuals on Romney as he speaks of serious issues is a engaged, serious face. He is talking to the moderator and through him to the American people. Obama’s posture is more hunched over than Romney. Obama points _at_ the moderator where as Romney points in another direction. It is a subtle thing, but is makes the point for Romney without the…threat?…Obama seems to have with his pointing gestures.
3. Ohhh… There is Romney’s constipated smile. That has to be the worse TV angle he has had. This seated format limits his playing the camera angles like the first two debates. If this seated format had been the first one, Romney would not have scored as big a win.
4. Romney seems to have a conscious effort going to keep his chin tucked when speaking to avoid even a hint of the head up head pose Obama had in the previous two debates. The seated format gives Obama and the camera men more lee way to video Obama in a less visually arrogant pose while seated or speaking.
5. There are the Obama death glares and the Romney constipated smiles going back and forth.
6. Now Romney talking to the moderator. Chin tucked. Romney’s gestures seem smaller and less expressive than the last two debates while his facial expressions have grown more intimate. This will play VERY STRONGLY with women voters. Obama just lost the election by 7% or more. I can see a practiced before the television screen expression for “Q” rating effect and Romney is doing it well, over and over again!!!
7. Both candidates are wearing American flag pins. The red-blue visuals of the ties from the first two debates between the two men have changed. Romney went for a Red tie with Blue stripes…again subtle, but powerful imagery. Romney is also using expressive hand gestures, those in the intimate close up are not seen, but the pull back they provide exclamation points.
8. There is this two level effect with Romney’s hand gestures. Close ups seem controlled and intimate, while the pull back is powerful. This is the result of hours of practice and video debriefing feedback.
9. And the split cam gives us the Obama death glare. The comparative video images of Romney and Obama are jarring. Obama is better than the last debate, but it seems like he is a challenger and not THE PRESIDENT.
10. There is a less pleasant _something_ to Obama’s face…I think he botoxed his forehead!!! Look at the age lines on Romney, and how they move. Now look at Obama. You don’t spend four years as president and not get age lines. THAT is why Obama has such death glares, part of his face is deadened.
There. Romney raises both his eyebrows and his whole forehead shows moving age lines.
Watch Obama and see what happened when he tries to raise his eye brows.
There. Obama gets a “Tee” just above his eye brows and nothing more.
There again, The biggest Obama eye brow raises don’t touch the hair line like they do for Romney.
11. The split screen showed Obama making a point and Romney is taking a note with a **** eating grin.
12. Romney has a more consistently upright posture than Obama, who is usually tilted right showing the left side of his face. This has been a consistent performance point for Obama. IMO, it isn’t a posture that helps him. IMO.
13. Closing statements — Obama has a furrowed, closed face. Romney has an open face with consistent and expressive hand gestures. Romney looks the happy warrior to Obama’s dark warrior. Romney is using Reagan-like head bobs in his closing statement. That was polished and practiced.
Obama did not score a game changer performance.
Romney looked Presidential, but his non-verbals did so in a way that was non-threatening, even attractive to women. Romney’s facial expressions were much more intimate, for lack of better words, than Obama’s. They were the sort of thing that attracts females in a room. They reminded me of some of Ronald Regan’s subtle non-verbals in terms of head bobs for emphasis in close ups, remembering to talk through a smile, and a “sit tall” posture while speaking that Obama only rarely affected.
The on-going spike in female support for Romney, which started a week after their first debate, will accelerate. Romney will be even or win with women on election day and bury Democrats with male and particularly white male votes.