Here’s a great analysis of what McCain’s avoidance of direct eye contact with Barack Obama says about their relationship. Summary: animal scholars believe that in many mammalian social situations eye contact is considered a challenge, so typically weaker and subservient males avoid eye contact with the stronger, alpha males in a pack.
I’d like to think that this analysis is a good corrolary for the entire debate, but I think the result was pretty mediocre, with neither side achieving a real victory; not that debates have any real statistical effect on a president’s approval ratings. I’d like to know the explanation behind this, but the graphs on CNN that showed audience approval rating bear this out. Each political affiliation’s line (Democrat, Independent, Republican) would react more or less exactly to when their candidate was talking. The independents seemed to be a little less loyal to any particular candidate, but really, most people have already decided on who they are going to vote for.