Apparently I struck a nerve last week when I dared to mention that the physical appearance of a candidate does impact whom voters choose to vote for. Some found my comments referencing Gov. Chris Christie “fatphobic,” even though I made it clear that presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney could actually learn a thing or two from his less svelte supporter.
Others wondered how Gov. Christie’s weight could be perceived as a liability when he defeated a thinner candidate to become governor in the first place in former senator turned Gov. John Corzine. An interesting question, until you consider that multiple studies have found that perhaps the only bigger turn off for voters than excess weight is excess facial hair, unless your name is actually Abraham Lincoln. Corzine sported facial hair throughout his campaign against Christie.
Also working against Corzine? The fact that not only do voters frown on too much hair on the face, but they also frown on too little on the head. Bald candidates and bearded candidates virtually tie for toughest uphill climb to elected office. Corzine happens to be both. He also wears glasses. I’m not sure what studies have to say about that but speaking as a glasses wearer who first started fumbling with my contacts in junior high, I can’t imagine they’re an asset.
The issue of hair and the role it actually plays in elections has become one of the most enduring urban legends of American politics. Plenty of people repeat the adage that “the candidate with the best hair always wins” as gospel. A Google search of this doesn’t come up with much data but millions and millions of references to this hypothesis.