Body language affects how voters perceive presidential debates - News, Weather & Sports

Body language affects how voters perceive presidential debates

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama during the debate. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama during the debate.
Anita Barbee Anita Barbee
Anita Barbee watching the debate. Anita Barbee watching the debate.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Americans watched the first presidential debate on Wednesday night very closely.

A facial expression, a hand gesture or even a slight stumble could all make a difference in how voters perceive it.

WAVE 3's Matt McCutcheon watched the debate from the WAVE 3 newsroom with Anita Barbee to find out how these body movements may be perceived by the public.

The debate started friendly, but it didn't take long for the warm regards to segue into some heated exchanges.

Barbee has been a professor at the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville for 26 years.

Barbee said during the debate Romney appeared more emotional, aggressive and agitated throughout the debate, even breaking a sweat.

President Obama, she says, was the opposite: he kept his calm and connected more with the audience.

Everyone interprets things differently, so she said Romney's aggressiveness could be seen as a dominant leader.

It could also be considered too hostile.

She said while Obama kept his cool and tried to connect more with his body language, he could be considered passive.

Barbee wasn't the only one who weighed in on the debate. Indiana Congressman Todd Young released a statement saying, "Mitt Romney did exactly what he needed to do tonight: He outlined a clear, articulate vision for turning our economy around by trusting the private sector and individual Americans. Unfortunately for voters, President Obama didn't take the same opportunity to tell us what his second term might look like. Instead of looking forward to the next four years, he spent most of the evening defending the failed Washington-knows-best policies of the last four years. If Americans wanted to hear ideas to put our country back to work, Mitt Romney was the only candidate who gave them what they wanted."

While Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth stated, "Gov. Romney was obviously well-prepared, but my biggest concern is his aggressive opposition to investments in energy innovation. Without President Obama's investments, GE's Appliance Park would not have received the tax incentives that were used to bring hundreds of jobs back to Louisville from China and Mexico. And without federal investments like these, Ford would not have been able to hire thousands of new workers and transform the Louisville Assembly Plant into what will be the largest Ford facility in North America."

Ultimately, voters will decide on November 6.

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