I seem to recall polls that were taken during one of the historic debates between Nixon and Kennedy. Radio listeners, hearing the content and, from a style perspective, only the intonation thought Nixon won. Of course, that debate was historic because the "optics" were very unfavorable to Nixon who looked small, sweaty (read as nervousness) and pale. The people who watched the debate on TV gave Kennedy the win.
Last night I was driving my daughter back from Volleyball practice and thanks to the wonders of a space age technology era (ushered in by Kennedy) I was listening to the start of the debate via satellite radio. I listened to a good 10 minutes of back and forth, heavy on statistics, verbal sparring, occasional jabs but I wasn't hearing anything that grabbed me and so I assumed there was a television audience who's eyes were glazing over. Where Romney was hanging a lot on this debate I felt that he was losing.
Between over-exposed Obama trying to sell the same, tired rhetoric peppered with some outright obfuscation of the facts and a lame attempt to co-opt Republican positions and Romney sounding like the Bain CEO reading a 10-k from one of the many public companies failing to reach their revenue goals in an Obama economy, well, I was growing not only disappointed but bored.
I switched off the radio. Came home. Got the kids to bed and thought I'd come back to it in the morning and hear the pundits who would use a salvo of coordinated DNC talking points to eviscerate Romney.
But I went to the DVR recording and once again, just as they did in the Nixon-Kennedy era, the "optics" provided a fundamentally different impression. The combination of the content and the visuals were in favor of Romney and Obama's own cheerleaders thought so based on their tweets and post debate commentaries.