We ran the candidates reactions through emotion detection software to see how they really responded to each other.
Debates are all about appearances. Ever since Nixon’s perspiration effectively cost him the presidency, candidates have honed their poker faces and made every effort to mask telltale emotions that might distract from their chosen message. But everyone has a tell, and we used facial recognition technology to analyze the candidates’ expressions during the third presidential debate to get a better read on their real reactions.
As with the previous debates, tensions between the two candidates were high, resulting in some heated moments.
When Clinton talked about how Trump “choked” on his visit to Mexico, his anger boiled just below the surface. The meeting did not go as Trump had planned, and the day after their meeting, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto refuted Trump’s claims that brickwork had been discussed, tweeting in Spanish, “I repeat what I told Mr. Trump personally: Mexico will never pay for a wall.”
Trump often uses Twitter to wage his battles, so it’s no surprise that such a blunt deconstruction of the “Twitter war” that followed got him riled. As we know, his social media presence is something he’s “not unproud of.”
Clinton seemed to also really get under his skin when she compared her experience to Trump’s lack of it, giving a brief timeline to contrast how they spent their professional lives. He temporarily lost all chill when she mentioned the $14 million loan Trump received from his father, with his anger hitting a high point right before he silently mouthed “Wrong,” into the microphone.
Trump’s face also registered anger when she defended her foundation, which he had just called “a disgrace.”
In comparing the Clinton Foundation to the Trump Foundation, she tried to pivot to his disgraced charity, which was recently ordered to stop fundraising and once purchased a 6-foot-tall portrait of the candidate with its contributions.
Another spot that seemed to trigger Trump was when she brought up his apparent frenemy Vladimir Putin. After speaking of his respect for and positive relations with the Russian President, he has been forced to backtrack, saying that he has never met him, despite trying to set up a meeting in Moscow.
His relatively positive stance on Putin later provided a surprisingly happy moment for Hillary. When Trump interrupted debate moderator Chris Wallace in order to restate his brazen claim that “She doesn’t like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her every step of the way,” in regard to Syria. Not just because of the ridiculousness of his suggestion that the Russian leader, whose strategy in Syria is currently failing, has made better foreign policy than she does, but because of how obviously rude Trump was coming off on TV, and how Wallace wasn’t having any of it.
When Wallace attempted to regain control of the debate, saying “I’m not a potted plant here. I would like to ask some questions,” she grinned from ear to ear, abandoning her poker face entirely. It wasn’t a good look for Trump, and Clinton knew it.
But there were also moments where it was clear that Trump’s charged language and fierce criticism got under Clinton’s skin. Early on, he went on a graphic rant about how Clinton supports the “ripping of babies” from their mother’s wombs (a gruesome sentence he repeated twice in a row).
Her reaction might be understandable given how it mischaracterized Clinton’s stance. The type of dilation and extraction abortion performed after 20 weeks to which Trump referred is extremely rare — according to the Centers for Disease Control, over 91 percent of abortions are performed within the first 13 weeks of a pregnancy, and only 1.3 percent occur after 21 weeks. Also, performing abortions days before a nine-month term is completed is unheard of, as one gynecologist took to Twitter to explain: