Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Expert in Nonverbal Debate Expressions Available for Comment

George Watson

October 27, 2015

Eric Bucy has done extensive studies on non-verbal expressions in presidential debates and is available for comment.


The latest of the 11 scheduled Republican primary debates is scheduled for Wednesday (Oct. 28), hosted by CNBC and held at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado The first two Republican debates have produced great theatre and memorable moments from a wide variety of personalities like billionaire businessman Donald Trump, neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The debates also have produced their share of verbal barbs, but also a good deal of nonverbal expressions from most every candidate, Trump in particular.

Erik Bucy, a professor in the College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech University, has done extensive studies on non-verbal expressions in presidential debates and is available by phone to comment on not only the upcoming debate but future debates as well.


Erik Bucy
Eric Bucy

Erik Bucy, Regents Professor of Strategic Communication, College of Media & Communication, (806) 834-3346 or erik.bucy@ttu.edu

Talking Points

  • Several candidates on the bubble need to have a good night, much like Carly Fiorina in the second Republican debate. Jeb Bush especially needs a strong performance to revive his sagging political fortunes, which means not allowing Donald Trump to dictate the tone or agenda of the debate and engaging with a broad set of issues and personalities.
  • In terms of communication style, less is more for Ben Carson, who is surging in the polls relative to Trump, but less is just less for Bush, whose calm and collected demeanor is not viewed as a sign of strong leadership in the pre-primary process.
  • Bombastic candidates like Trump, who know only one mode of communicating with potential voters — loud and somewhat tone-deaf to the broader electorate — can't understand the Carson surge or a non-Trump centric campaign dynamic. 
  • The “lower tier” or lesser-known candidates also need a breakout debate performance to show that they have more than just regional appeal. The field is beginning to winnow and the number of candidates left standing after each debate will continue to narrow.


  • “A calm demeanor and reassuring style, even tone of voice, is playing well for Carson but not for Bush. A low-key communication style reinforces the image of Bush as a quiet technocrat rather than a capable leader. Decrying the toxic tone of the campaign may play to pundits and thoughtful commentators but doesn't rally potential voters.”
  • “Jeb Bush can't allow himself to be the guy stuck in the middle of another crossfire between Trump and the rest of the field.”
  • As The New York Times recently noted, “Mr. Trump has derided Mr. Carson for lacking the vigor and fortitude to be president, but voters here are drawn to the retired neurosurgeon's low-pitched manner.”

Find Texas Tech news, experts and story ideas at Texas Tech Today Media Resources or follow us on Twitter .