By David Jackson, USA TODAY
October 1. 2012 - As far as one researcher is concerned, the fate of presidential candidates is in the eyes -- namely, how many times they blink during debates.
Joseph Tecce, a Boston College psychophysiologist who studies political body language, reports that the candidate who blinks the most during debates has lost every election but one since 1980 -- and the exception is George W. Bush, the year he lost the popular vote.
Four years ago, Tecce reported, Barack Obama blinked 62 times per minute during debates -- John McCain blinked 104 times per minute.
Obama won the election.
You be sure Tecce will be watching and timing on Wednesday when President Obama and Mitt Romney debate Wednesday night in Denver.
Scientists have long associated eye movements with one's emotional state. People blink more often when they are under stress, and some observers believe it can have a subliminal effect on voters.
The website The Daily -- to whom we are indebted for this tidbit -- reported:
"Explaining the apparent link with election results is a bit trickier though. Does the audience find the faster-blinking candidate unnerving and form a negative impression? Or does the candidate who is trailing in the polls tend to be under greater stress - and therefore likely to blink more often? Tecce says that both factors likely come into play.
This year, Romney seems to be an early favorite to blink less, based on Tecce's analysis of the candidates' most-recent convention speeches. Romney blinked 33 times a minute during his acceptance address, while Obama did 41 times a minute.
Still, Tecce said, he expects the blinking contest will be tight.
'It appears from previous performances that they are both relatively close in blink rate and both in the normal range,' Tecce told The Daily. 'Consequently, we will have to watch carefully in the coming debates to see if this pattern holds or whether there will be an observable difference between these two candidates. If their rates hold now, as it has in the past, there may not be enough of a difference for voters to be affected.'"