The Presidential Debate Decorder

President Obama spent more time on offense at the foreign policy debate.

ByABC News
October 23, 2012, 12:31 PM

Oct. 23, 2012— -- President Obama out-zingered Mitt Romney in their final presidential debate by 3 to 1, according to communications analysis firm Quantified Impressions.

Obama deployed what researchers described as "pointed, purposeful, aggressive commentary" for a total of 240 seconds to Romney's 80 seconds throughout the foreign policy debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., Monday night.

"We were looking at pointed and purposeful aggressive commentary," Briar Goldberg, the Austin, Texas-based firm's lead presentation reviewer, said. "Commentary from either candidate was technically meant to be a sound bite the next morning. Obama spent more time doing that."

(Click HERE for the full debate transcript)

Using a methodology developed at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, Quantified Impressions' analysts measured the candidate's performance on this and 27 other metrics of effective communication.

From the pace of speech, to the degree of complexity, analysts said that by the end of the series of three debates, both candidates had reached a peak in their communication skills.

"Both of the candidates, their scores were so high that they were both effectively communicating with their audience," Quantified Impressions president Noah Zandan said. "It's really a measurement of style as much as content because people are going to hear the content that they want to hear."

With the Obama and Romney seated at a table and not standing as they had been in previous debates, the foreign policy forum featured fewer moments of aggressive confrontation between the candidates.

But some of the more memorable moments came when the candidates directed their comments to each other. Obama berated Romney for repeating the assertion that Obama had embarked on an international "apology tour" at the beginning of his presidency, calling it the campaign's "biggest whopper."

(Click HERE for ABC News' fact check of the debate.)

And chiding Romney for arguing that the Navy is weaker than it was in 1916, Obama said that the military also has fewer "horses and bayonets" than it did at that time.

Such references to "bayonets and horses" and "whoppers" became instant Internet fodder. And they contrasted sharply with Romney's conciliatory tone at times during the debate.

"Attacking me is not an agenda," Romney told Obama at one point on Monday night in Florida.

Facial-expression expert Chris Kowal of Purdue University, who used a computer program to scrutinize Obama and Romney's underlying emotions throughout the debate, said Obama's expressions clearly displayed pride when he deployed both zingers.

"When he made the 'whopper' remark, he had two seemingly competing emotions: happiness and sadness. There was a mixed emotion of frustration in with pride," Kowal said. "Then, when he said the 'horses and bayonets' he had a look of pleasure. There was definitely a lot of pride."

Kowal's analysis scrutinizes the more than 400 micro-muscles in the face that reveal the underlying emotions that are expressed as the candidates speak. Emotions such as sadness, fear, pride, frustration and happiness are reflected on a person's face whether they are apparent in their words.

"Those micro-expressions are going to be the true expression of how a candidate feels at that moment," Kowal said. "They are expressing their true emotions. Typically, they are very, very hard to control."