Do Looks Matter?

To switch gears from the debate this weekend and what Drudge called a “Stephonopo-Mess”, I wanted to write about the physical appearance aspect of rhetoric. I always wondered who dresses the candidates, why they wear what they do, and the significance that looks and physical attributes has on a candidate. If you do a simple Google Images search of Obama, you will find that he is primarily in a black suit, white shirts, and a variety of ties. This is the same attire I found in the GOP primaries, with the exception of Santorum who occasionally sports a blue shirt, but nothing extreme. Does any of this matter?

A recent study by two Israeli professors suggests that in fact, politics and looks are related.  They concluded that members of congress who are “better looing” appeared more frequently on television. The professors suggested that this may be in part due to the networks trying to attract larger audiences.  The research was performed on House and Senate members in 2007, who were rated by students on a scale of attractiveness.  The researchers concluded that every additional score on the physical attractiveness scale, the politicians TV exposure rose 11.6%. The members considered most attractive were disproportionately Republicans, senators and women.

Malcolm Gladwell in Blink adds to the good looking politics arguments. He suggests a “Warren Harding Error.” Warren Harding is known as one of the worst presidents of all times, but also one of the “best looking” with charisma and personality. He was described as impeccably groomed, well dressed, and masculinity in his voice. The 1920 election was the first election that women were able to vote. The attractiveness of Harding is suggested to be a lure for many of the first time voting women, and other constituents. It was seen that the public did not get to know Harding enough, and voted for him based on attractiveness. Do looks really matter? How does the uneducated voter choose a candidate? What about in the job force? A survey of the CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies revealed almost a 2.5 inch height difference form the average American man. Will be best looking candidate win the GOP nomination? Should candidates care more about how they look and what they wear?

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  • shaune1992  On January 10, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I find that dressing in a suit helps raise a candidates charisma as well as professional appearance. A person who looks put together is most likely going to instill the belief that they are good leaders, though not always true it is generally a good assumption.It would also be good to look to see if the candidate looks confident and comfortable in what they are wearing.

  • fiutemca  On January 16, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Looks do matter quite a bit actually. I remember in government class in high school we talked a little about the JFK vs Nixon election in 1960. We discussed how JFK looked better in person and on TV than Nixon did but if you would have listened to what they had to say Nixon would have been the definite winner over JFK. I feel, especially today, that people go off looks a lot more than what the candidate stands for. Watching different news channels like CNN and FOX News, a few special guests went on and talked about how they believed that Obama was elected only because he was black-these special guests were all different races so no racism here. But, I do believe America are visual people; they like to see nice, dressed up, good-looking people.

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