Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The body language debate

This blog post explains what impression might have been conveyed through the debaters' body language, something we may see reflected in coming days:
Try the old silent test: watch any portion of the debate with the sound turned down. Harper looked miserable, especially when forced to listen to anyone direct criticism at him. I am not comfortable commenting on politicians’ physical traits, but Harper’s expression did not serve him well, and likely reinforced voter concerns that he is cold, autocratic, mean-spirited.
Ignatieff looked poised, serious, concerned, and easy to imagine as prime minister—nothing like the caricature painted of him in attack ads or pack news analysis. He was effective against Harper, especially in the first half. This is the first long look most Canadians have had of him, and many will be surprised and impressed. He will benefit from low expectations.
Someone mentioned to me yesterday that they would be watching with the sound off for part of it, just as this blogger did, in order to assess the body language. I re-watched some of it on a second run last night and had a similar impression. I agree with the comment above on Harper's expression in particular.

See also this piece from the pre-debate run-up on how Paul Martin actually ended up winning the 2004 debate on a similar body language score.

Food for thought. We'll see in coming days how it all unfolds. Along with that French debate tonight of course.