Physical Appearance Matters More To Casual Voters Than Policies or Parties
BY ANNABEL LEE
The Iowa caucuses are today, which makes today the perfect time to look at what motivates voters to pick a particular candidate over another. Now, Iowa caucus goers tend to be some of the most passionate voters in America, given how much time the caucuses take over the day and night. We’re going to examine what happens when the voters are less informed on the issues, and casting a ballot during a primary or general election. The topic is the appearance of the candidates, and their attractiveness, their height, their build and their composure. Each of these factors will be in play more with New Hampshire, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about it when the first results on Ultimate Political Survivor are being tabulated today. Since the use of television became popular for elections and campaigns, the physical appearance of the candidate mattered more and more in the eyes of the voters. The famous Kennedy – Nixon debates where Kennedy appeared calm and collected, while Nixon was sweating from the heat of the lights became political lore. Nixon was described as appearing nervous about the young Kennedy and apprehensive on the stage.
The proliferation of video technology makes it easier to see candidates anywhere, in the worst or their best. Candidates can forget to remain in a poke or a character, and be instantly caught online looking like schmucks. Candidates are forced to be on their toes regarding their appearance more than in the past. Any image can go viral in only a few minutes. This pressure adds to the chaos that is a presidential race for the candidates. It is a part of why candidates appear stressed, rattled and on-edge for months on end. The physical tolls of that pressure are enormous and under-reported.
There is science that backs up the notion that candidates are judged on their appearance. For voters who don’t follow politics closely, and aren’t focused on a particular party or policy, or even a candidate, these voters cast their ballots for the candidate which can be considered the most physically attractive.
A 2008 study examined the physical appearance of candidates and how people make decisions. The study focused on candidates from actual elections in 2006 which were unknown to the participants. Party affiliations and policies, views and any information about the candidates was removed from the equation. The participants were seen photos of the two candidates and asked to choose between them. The results showed that candidates who were considered more attractive to the voter were more likely to receive the vote. When the results were tallied, the results were very similar to the actual results from the election in 2006. The more attractive candidates ended up winning more races than they lost.
Studies like this have been conducted in the past, showing that the candidates who are most appealing physically can be more likely to win an election. Similar studies have been conducted regarding the height of the candidate. Photos of two candidates from past elections standing side-by-side were used, resulting in the taller candidate generating more votes than the shorter candidate. Height was less of a difference maker between the candidates, however, if the shorter candidate had a more appealing face. Studies on body structure yielded similar results.
When you start seeing the results come in from the primaries across the country, you’ll see the patterns play out again. The general election, where most casual voters come to cast ballots, will be one of the biggest signs as to who voters picked based on physical appearance. The last 25 years are littered with images of two candidates, and the one who appeared the most handsome ended up winning. Given the GOP race, the declared candidates, and President Obama, one could say that Obama will generate more votes on physical appearance, though Romney and Huntsman both rate very high in physical attractiveness. It will be interesting to see how things play out during the next 10 months.
- What Are The Iowa Caucuses Anyway? | Double Dip Politics (mbcalyn.com)
- Would You Sign a Contract That Had Stipulations on Your Physical Appearance? (bellasugar.com)
- How do great authors describe the physical appearance of their characters? (ask.metafilter.com)
- Why are classification systems not based on physical appearance (wiki.answers.com)
- Cosmetic surgery ‘can boost self esteem’ (mya.co.uk)
- Steve Lombardo: Election Monitor: Eyes on Gingrich but Obama the One Stealing the Show (Election) (huffingtonpost.com)
- The overhyped, unrepresentative Iowa caucuses – CBS News (cbsnews.com)
- Are Americans Dumb Voters? (pilogic.net)
- Do Our Societies Place Too Much Emphasis On Physical Appearance? (baahduodu.wordpress.com)
- Is Romney’s Religion an Issue in Iowa? (usnews.com)