Body Language of Presidential Candidates, Super Tuesday,Body Language of the Presidential Candidates. Who Will Win?

Body Language of Presidential Candidates, Super Tuesday, Body Language of the Presidential Candidates. Who Will Win?

The Body Language of the Presidential Candidates in their Super Tuesday speeches and in their previous media appearance. 

Here are my rough notes. First I will start with their Super Tuesday Speech reads and then follow that with their previous speaking body language. You will find the Super Tuesday notes in blue ink and the general notes on the candidates’ body language in black. 

Hillary Clinton   

In her Super Tuesday Speech in Florida Hilary Clinton started with high energy and maintained high, happy energy throughout the speech. In fact, she was the happiest speaker of all the candidates in their Super Tuesday speeches. She has previously given many deceptive, defensive and sarcastic cues, but she was coached well for this speech and often showed the palms of her hands and we read that as someone who is being open and honest. Again we need to see that to override the preponderance of negative cues we have seen in most of her media appearances. 
In this speech Hilary had what I call “UP” body Language. Her gestures were upward so her hands came to or above her shoulders. She even brought the corners of her mouth up and smiled throughout her Super Tuesday speech. Her voice went up in energy at the end of her sentences, rather than down in distaste and disgust with the line of questioning or her lack of confidence as I have been seeing. Her word messages were also up. She was thanking people, talking about a positive future, with statements such as, “…we need more love and kindness.” Though she made negative comments about the other candidates they were not crudely derogatory messages instead they often ended with a positive message that made her appear hopeful and positive such as, “… Not build a wall but build ladders of opportunity.” 
Her appearance was great. She looked well rested, her skin glowed. She looked pretty. Her voice was raspy but not quite as strained as I have heard in her other recent speeches and during recent debates. This stronger voice made her sound stronger and more like a winner.  Though at the end of the speech she pushed her voice and it was a bit strained.  Her volume went up and her gestures stayed “UP” so she read even at the end of her speech as energetic and positive. Though she did much better than she has in the past few months at warmth and congruence of her word message with her delivery, and was the best of all the candidates in her Super Tuesday speech, she still seemed canned and fake and less sincere than say, Bernie in his speeches. Read about the importance of silhouette in my previous post. In this speech her silhouette was up and erect. 
A link to the video of Hilary’s Super Tuesday Speech and body language 
In her speeches and interview before Super Tuesday Hilary Clinton shows many shoulder shrugs of uncertainty.  When Hilary is asked a tough question, often a question about the email server, she looks down before she answers which indicates that she is looking down on the question and is preparing her message and not speaking from her heart.  Her voice is raspy and shows great vocal strain. I think the effort to keep her voice in lower more powerful register and speak loudly is straining it. Unfortunately, that strain sounds to a potential voter like a lack of strength, and perhaps a lack of character. I rather like the anger she is showing in current speeches and television appearances. She needs to be angry to fight and look powerful against Trump’s overriding anger. Look at my blogs on anger to note how we read anger as power. There is an interesting video where she is asked a question about being paid 650,000 dollars for speaking to Goldman Sachs where she steps backward as she begins answering the question, she is symbolically walking away from the question. If she had brought the rest of her body language down with that step back to show she felt shame in taking that speaking engagement that would have been interesting and understandable, but instead she raises up her body language and defends herself and delivers the line, “That’s what they paid me” with humour. It got her a laugh, and she justified that all secretary of states do this, but it did not garner my respect. 

Bernie Sanders 
Bernie’s Super Tuesday speech started with this wonderful image of him surrounded by people bouncing his blue posters so visually the posters danced all around him.  That lifted up his nonverbal image, transferring it to him and making him look hugely popular at the start of his speech. That was a great nonverbal set up. Unfortunately he himself did not look energized. He did his usual holding on to the podium, putting his full weight on it making him look like he needed help standing up.  He was much more negative in his verbal and nonverbal messaging than I have seen him in his other speeches. He made several sour pursed lip expressions and a few downward turned and tight lipped angry looks and looks of disgust. This was a profound contrast for his iconic warm smiling likeable image.  He also yelled a lot. Even when he made positive statements he made them sound negative. Normally he is inspirational when he talks about certain things. But, in this speech, when talked about global warming and got to what should have been a positive uplifting message that I have seen him give in rousing to action way he said, “Together we are going to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and a sustainable energy…” as he yelled and then had a voice and delivery that went down and petered out. When he said, what is usually a spirited, inspirational statement, “Healthcare is a right for all people” he sounded angry and tired and a bit defeated. I want to emphasize in previous speeches he gave these same messages without the raspy tired voice and with upward gestures and smiles that made his message seem like he could do it! His overall silhouette is bent over in a tilted C like position making him look older and weaker than the other candidates. 
In Bernie Sanders previous presentations he has a warm, genuine smile that is the most likable, believable smile of all the candidates. He also shows great integrity in his messaging, that his word message tracks and agrees with his body language and vocal cues.    When someone is telling the truth their voice and body language comes in its natural order feel show say, you see the candidate express his emotion then they say the words. Specifically a person who is telling the truth feels the emotion first in their limbic brain then shows it in his body language and then he goes to his neocortex and thinks about the words that go with that feeling and says them. When a candidate is lying they think of the lie they want to say in their neocortex, then he says it before they forget it then he thinks about what feeling should go with it, then he has to switch to his limbic brain to show that nonverbal behavior. So you see and hear a dissonant set of messages. So you hear the candidate say the words but the facial expression and gestures are off, slightly delayed and off and it makes you feel uncomfortable.

Republican Ben Carson 
Not rah rah. He started his Super Tuesday speech with an odd sideways lean and lots of “shuttered” eyes, that is his eyes were closed for long periods of time as he spoke and his voice was its usual soft matter of fact slow paused filled delivered.  These Lean and Eye Shutter alone cues show his weariness and lack of confidence but, add in the other cues and we really feel it.
When he smiles and tells a joke he is charming, but those moments are far too few.  In general he has a lack of affect, specifically a lack of warmth or in any way energetic facial expressions. This is especially apparent in the times the camera is on him as he listens. Over all his shoulders sloped downward significantly that creates a tired, submissive silhouette. He has a slow pace, and again overall lacks significance. I will say in the last debates he got better at gesturing upward and open in his planned rehearsed statement.  Another non alpha characteristic is his eye’s natural base line position is almost closed, and it along with his slow pace makes him look sleepy and somewhat closed and perhaps deceptive. He tilts his head quite a bit when he is speaking which makes him look submissive.  He has gotten better at gesturing, but his gestures over all are slightly lower and much quicker than Trumps which makes him look less powerful and less long lasting. One characteristic that bothers me is his little smirk. He gives a downward smile smirk at the end of his planned diatribes that are irritatingly smug. Oddly when Trump does it he swaggers and it makes him look conceited but oddly powerful, narcissistic but powerful and we will choose the most powerful candidate.  When Cruz smirks just that tiny bit without the big swagger delivery and strong voiced statement it makes him look a bit like naughty little boy. 

Marc Rubio
He pushed and rushed his voice and delivery at the beginning of his speech rather than coming out strong but centered and building to intense delivery. (Hitler by the way was a master at the slow build that took his audiences on a journey and made him a leader you wanted to follow on his journey.)   Interesting that right after Rubio said it was great to be in Florida and great to be back home that he went to his first real message of his speech, “….and Donald Trump is a con artist.” Rather than an up lifting motivating message. Also interesting that during his pauses he is still making odd mouth movements. He will give a message, pause and then pulls his lips closed tight, then rub his lips together then sometimes wet them with his tongue. This shows both his discomfort and stress and shows he does not fully feel confident in his messages. Notice how on the tape he does a lot of pointing down, not just when he talks about Trump, which would make sense, but when he gives messages that are positive. So after he says “Right Here,” which could have a downward message, “We are going to send a message…” He could and should have gestured up with both hands, open them outward swept out to the full crowd to show the inclusive “we “and then brought his hands up and towards him to show that they were all in support of him and he would lift them up and win. The little point up he did was weak. Again his lack of confidence that Trump wouldn’t get there, or also that Rubio himself was holding truth back, he may think he is a bit of a con artist.  
Super Tuesday Speech
He is young and attractive, but during the debates he is shorter and smaller than Trump. He is good at bringing up his volume to interrupt and speak over other candidates and he smiles as he does it. He smiles at lot, but anger trumps happiness. (Go back to anger is the strongest emotion research at the top of this article.) tongue cleanse, meaning the tongue comes slowly out of the mouth as if it has to be cleansed by the teeth as it exists this cue shows he would like to get the taste of what he is saying out of his mouth. He has a tendency to pull in his lips as he is listening to the tough questions which indicates he is holding in his true emotions and perhaps his true thoughts on the issue and can indicate that the next thing out of his mouth could be a lie. He is more congruent with his facial expressions and his words and that makes him look more honest. 

Ted Cruz
In his Super Tuesday speech he was serious, his overall body language was subdued. His head came forward and down as the field is divided. Donald Trump’s nomination remains more likely and that would be a disaster for Republican. His facial features slope downward at the outside edges giving him a tired and negative appearance. The most striking thing about his body language, the most disconcerting is his eyes and brows don’t move in sync with the rest of his face or body language.  When he is saying positive things, his brows don’t go up and his eyes don’t open wide. Because the upper part of the face is the most honest this lack of congruence makes him look insincere, and not fully truly happy. 
On a good note, when he is in flow with a prepared answer or speech he has a lot of energy. His gestures have improved and he gives more and they are in often feel, show, say synchronous motions that match what he is saying and they make him look, at least in his lower body, that he is sincere. Again these congruent gestures occur during his prepared statements. But overall his gestures are slightly lower and are more darting and short lived making him appear less forceful and confident than he could be. For example notice the breadth and length of Trump’s gestures. I am not endorsing Trump, rather you need to know that our primitive limbic brains see the candidate with the most powerful, larger, bigger and long lasting body language cues. 

Donald Trump 
Super Tuesday – Voice Strain, held onto the podium. Slight lean to the left. Not exuberant. Looked tired. Less Gestures, Lower, fingers didn’t finger points and chops in weapon like gestures, scowls and grimaces and yells a lot. This combined with his BIG hair, big head and jaw and height make his imprint as the aggressive alpha male candidate.  In addition, he has a low, growly voice.
In the analysis of the Debates from the past hundred years the candidate with the lowest voice won. Lower tones in the voice are formed by a larger larynx. Trump is the lion roaring and that can win over a “nice” candidate. Anger can “trump” nice.

Donald Trump and his finger.
WOOD: Oh, yes! Oh, yes! That wonderful aggressive weapon-like pointing. He also adds the chopping motion. He chops the other candidates to pieces. He also does that in a forward motion. So all of that together is very aggressive. He goes right towards us.

[14:25:11] And in some way that can be appealing to us because we want that alpha candidate. That grimacing, all that growling like a lion, can appeal to us. Isn't that odd? Isn't that interesting? 

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