From his stilted speech to his downcast expression, President Obama looked uncomfortable on the debate stage Wednesday night. But can we prove, scientifically, that he felt more uncomfortable than Mitt Romney? Perhaps.
Internal agitation can manifest itself as external fidgetiness, and as researchers at the University of Minnesota's Smart Politics found, Obama was particularly fidgety in one area: his eyes.
The president blinked 1,000 times more than his challenger, peaking his max blinks per minutes at 88.8 when he attacked Romney on taxes.
"This non-verbal cue conforms with several observations that have been made about the president's performance on Wednesday," stated the press release on the findings, "such as the frequent 'umms' and 'ahhs' he uttered during the debate -- as he seemingly struggled to get his bearings and formulate his arguments against Romney who appeared much more focused."
Relative to the average blinking rate of 20 to 25 eye flickers per minute, Romney was agitated as well, blinking nearly double that. However, the researchers indicate that the elevated rates for both candidates could be due to the bright lights of the debate stage.
The record low-blinking rate for a debate as recorded by Smart Politics? That belongs to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who, in a January GOP primary debate, blinked at a glacial 15.9 times per minutes.