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Democratic Candidate Debate

October 14, 2015

Professional 3 3836The purpose of my post is not to name a debate “winner,” but rather to “technically” score each candidate based on his or her communication skills in this type of environment and through the TV lens.  Although I’m a conservative, I’m also a communication skills trainer who serves leaders from both parties, so I worked to be as objective as possible.

During my 28 years of working with leaders on camera I’ve come up with ways to rate performance.  I listened to, observed and scored each one based on how well he or she delivered a matched non-verbal, vocal and verbal message that was credible, believable and understandable.   Here’s how I scored them on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being highest (followed by how many minutes each one was on camera) :

It’s possible, because I’m also from New England, that I found Bernie’s dialect familiar and not a distraction.  It’s also possible some from other regions of the U.S. might find it to be.

  • Bernie Sanders     9.9     28:05 minutes
  • Hillary Clinton     9.6     31:05 minutes
  • Jim Webb     9.14     15:35 minutes
  • Martin O’Malley     9.10     17:56 minutes
  • Lincoln Chafee     8.6     9:11 minutes

Despite the fact he sounds like Jack Klompus, from the Seinfeld sitcom, Sanders is an excellent communicator.  Only once did he fumble for words.  Otherwise he displayed outstanding congruency between his non-verbal, vocal and verbal delivery.  It’s rare to see someone with such mastery of vocal inflection, and in a way that matched everything he said and every gesture he made. The morning news pundits give Clinton the win, but in terms of communication she fell short of Sander’s performance.  She was, however, in the zone and communicating at her best.  She lost points in my rating system from a few verbal fumbles and a few times when her facial expressions seemed smug and her tone harsh or condescending on a topic that should not have been addressed in a snarky manner.

While Web, O’Malley and Chaffee may be fine and experienced politicians, they did not measure up to the communication performance of Sanders of Clinton in this type of venue.  It would’ve been a better debate with Joe Biden included.   

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