Body Language of the Republican Debates

Body Language of the Republican Debates

Historically the most charismatic (based on Power, likeability and Attractiveness)   in the pack of debaters is judged to have "won" the debate according to the viewers. We love a charismatic speaker. Charisma even without credibility can be extremely powerful. Researchers at the Institute for Social Research studied the effects of charisma on politics. In the study, Harvard undergraduates who were shown ten-second silent video clips of unfamiliar candidates from 58 past gubernatorial elections consistently chose the candidate who won. They didn’t hear a word the candidates said, but they almost without exception picked the winner. Their choices were made purely on the basis of body language. In fact, when they could hear what the candidates said, the students were no better at predicting who had won.
One of the aspects of the debates I found interesting is that no candidate in the later debates stood out as being tallest, the most attractive, powerful or likeable in other wards no one was highly charismatic. Compare that to the obvious most charismatic "winner" in the last two elections. 

It looked like they had the most intense lights aimed at Trump, to make him have that horrible squint that made him look like the Grinch. He looked mad at the start of every question. At the beginning of the debate he had the most energy and confidence, though the majority of the energy was anger and bravado. When Trump was asked about sending drug dealers across the borders he gave one of his pat nonverbal gesture clusters he raised his hands high in the air pushing them forward.
We typically raise our hands to communicate happiness joy, confidence and power. Open palms signal the receiver of the message that you are "unarmed" and likely to be safe and honest.
The forward pushing of the hands signals power and action. So the entire gesture cluster, though it is not spontaneous for him, sends a message of extreme power and action and a desire for you to view him as honest.

 Mark Rubio also started with high energy.

Chris Christie’s first answer was like a race horse fast and prepared out the box and his delivery appeared more sincere than canned.

Rand Paul looked like he had not had a good night's sleep in a week and his gestures were very odd and highly coached making him look like a puppet. Visually compared to other candidates he appeared smaller, rather like a little boy.  

John Kasich came across through the entire debates as the most level headed calm candidate, which is very interesting. He gestured honestly with feel show say.

Bush started out very off as if he was having trouble being in his body. He was tense. As he answered about his brothers war was a mistake, he was not sure of himself.   I feel he lost any chance of winning this debate with his lack of self-assurance and hesitating delivery on this question.
Later on 4 percent growth his delivery got better, but I think it was too late in the debates.

Governor Walker did answer specifically question about Kate's Law.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at