Typically, analysis about the debates begin as the candidates walk on to the stage, however I want to report an observation that has left a mark and speculate about an emotional state of one of the candidates. The personal attack Donald Trump has levied surrounding himself with the women accusing Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct has, I postulate, personally shaken and upset Hillary Clinton. Evidence of this may be seen in the lack of the handshake and personal distances kept at the start of the debate between the two candidates. However, if we rewind the evening and pay attention to the interactions, rather limited, between Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton, clues about this emotional state emerge.
One camera was patiently waiting to capture the arrival of the candidates, first Donald Trump emerged and somberly entered the event with his family. Then Hillary Clinton's SUV arrived. Her family, Bill and Chelsea greeted her. Bill a few feet back, Hillary offering no eye connection with her husband, then Chelsea wrapped her arm around Hillary embracing, supporting, and protecting her, she then walked her mom into the university building. The distance and pain might be felt at the end of the debate as well, Bill Clinton offered her warm words but the two kept their distance on the stage and finally Bill Clinton left the stage long before his wife. The pot had been stirred, betrayal and anger surfaced. In search for the authentic Hillary Clinton, those moments she allows her emotions to be free and revealing, this pain resonates.
The debate began. And like a masterfully disciplined and trained athlete, Hillary Clinton's game face only had a few moments of leaking back to the stirred pot of emotions, her stature otherwise full of poise and potency.
For a researcher in nonverbal communication, the debate proved insightful, frustrating, and entertaining. Mainly the distracting behaviors of Donald Trump. Here Hillary Clinton is experienced and methodical in these events, Donald Trump is seemingly unconcerned or unaware of his presence. Trump spent the evening lugubriously pacing and pointing. From the first question he did not know what to do with his body, sit or stand, ultimately he sat -- perhaps the only time of the evening. When a question was asked his microphone often abruptly lifted to his face ready to answer without patiently waiting to hear the entire question. In stark contrast to Hillary Clinton, who nodded and acknowledged the questioners as she walked closer to them.
Nonverbally the two candidates could not be any more different. As Donald Trump paced while waiting his turn, Hillary Clinton would practice patience. While Donald Trump interrupted he stood firm and unapologetic, in contrast to the one interruption made by Clinton where she lifted her hand almost asking for permission. Donald Trump limited his movement to a limited space on the stage as if there were boundary lines, while Hillary Clinton only returned to her space while Trump spoke or when the questions came from the moderators. Often Clinton would sit, while Trump held firmly the back of his seat creating a barrier of comfort.
While their delivery methods radically differed, both candidates exercised passion and strong convictions in their messages.
Over the next few days I'll be finishing my analysis of the debate looking specifically at the candidate's facial expressions and the emotions they expressed. For this analysis I will be using the latest version of a software program, FaceReader 7.0, that automates the process. I'll update you then on my findings.