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Body Language in the Vice Presidential Debate

Did Gender Differences Play a Role? Experts Weight In

Vice Presidential Debate Scorecard continued...

Koegel agrees that Biden and Palin were equally effective, but he says "hammering" McCain too often may have diluted Biden's message of where he himself stood on the issues.

2. Speech Pattern: Did the candidates sound conversational without awkward pauses?

 

Roberts:

Palin - 4

Biden - 5

 

Koegel:

Palin - 4

Biden - 4

 

Goman:

Palin - 5

Biden - 5

 

Average:

Palin - 4.3

Biden- 4.6

 

"They both sound conversational in totally different styles," Goman tells WebMD. "Palin's style says, 'I'm just like you.' Her colloquialisms, such as 'doggone-it,' were effective for that message." Biden's style, Goman says, sent a different message: "I'm knowledgeable and passionate. I'm not intimidating, but I'm vice presidential."

Koegel says Biden's style probably played very well with supporters of the Obama/Biden ticket. "I think Palin's style would have a better impact overall," he says, "because your average Joe six-pack" could relate.

Roberts gave Palin a point off for sounding too hesitant at times. "When she didn't feel secure about her answer, her voice got very hesitant and a little shaky. You did not hear that with Biden; [his speech] was calm, cool, and collected throughout the presentation."

3. Tone of Voice: Did the candidates sound confident but not arrogant or angry?

 

Roberts:

Palin - 5

Biden - 4

 

Koegel:

Palin - 3.5

Biden - 4

 

Goman:

Palin - 3.5

Biden - 4

 

Average:

Palin - 4

Biden- 4

 

According to Roberts, Palin struck an immediate, friendly tone of voice. "The first words out of her mouth were, 'Can I call you Joe?'" Biden's voice was also polite. Roberts says gender may have had an impact here -- Biden was careful not to sound like he was slamming or talking down to Palin.

At one point when he was talking about his children, Biden's voice broke. "Does it make him weak or does it make him real?" Roberts wonders. "The audience must decide."

Goman pointed out Palin's occasional tendency to raise her pitch at the end of a sentence, so it sounds more like a question. This cadence supports a message of "I'm just like you," but it could "get in the way of a sending a message about being vice presidential.'"

4. Posture: Did the candidates stand up straight with their heads held high?

 

Roberts:

Palin - 5

Biden - 5

 

Koegel:

Palin - 5

Biden - 5

 

Goman:

Palin - 3.5

Biden - 3.5

 

Average:

Palin - 4.5

Biden- 4.5

 

"They both shifted, looked down at notes, and raised their shoulders," Goman says. "They were both equally guilty of not holding that erect posture." On the positive, "their bodies oriented when they spoke and when they listened," showing respect for each other's point of view.

5. Gestures: Did the candidates use natural, fluid gestures?

 

Roberts:

Palin - 3

Biden - 4

 

Koegel:

Palin - 3

Biden - 4

 

Goman:

Palin - 4

Biden - 4

 

Average:

Palin - 3.3

Biden- 4

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