October 27th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

What if voters choose candidates based on their looks?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Want to know why we're in trouble?
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/10/27/art.romney.tux.jpg caption="Former Governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney is known for 'looking the part' of a candidate."]
Political candidates with good hair have a much better chance of being elected than candidates with bad hair, whether either of them knows anything about the issues.

That should scare all of us - but it's true.

A new study by MIT researchers published in the journal "World Politics" shows that people vote for politicians just because they "look the part." That's right: They'll cast a ballot for someone simply because they look smart, competent or attractive.

The research also shows that this phenomenon isn't just unique to the United States, but exists across cultures. In their study, more than 600 participants in the United States and India were shown pictures of candidates in 120 Mexican and Brazilian races. Then they were asked who would do a better job in office.

The Americans and Indians accurately predicted the outcomes of these political races to a surprising degree - based on nothing more than the candidates' faces.

According to the study, just by knowing which candidate looked better, researchers could accurately predict the winner in 68 percent of Mexican elections and 75 percent of some Brazilian elections.

Voting for the good-looking candidate is not a new idea. One of the researchers says, "Ever since Aristotle, people have written about the concern that charismatic leaders who speak well and look good can sway votes even if they do not share the people's views."

But the fact that voters across the world in the 21st century, with all the problems we face, could be exercising their democratic right based on nothing more than good hair or a nice smile is downright frightening.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if voters choose candidates based on their looks?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Tony in North Carolina writes:
If people voted on the candidates' good looks, how did Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, and Anthony Weiner ever get elected?

John in San Antonio, Texas writes:
It means the voters are as superficial as the candidates. Other than that, it means nothing; the corporate bosses will dictate how they perform.

June writes:
Jack, It means we get what we deserve.

Elisa in California writes:
What does it mean, Jack? It means we are in trouble out here in California where the race for Governor is Bad Hair vs. No Hair.

Paul writes:
It makes sense when you consider how much of a shallow, materialistic society we live in and how much politicians market themselves as products using catch phrases and bumper sticker slogans. We're increasingly short-focused and make near instant conclusions about people and most everything else, and it doesn't bode well for future competence of government.

Terry in Arizona writes:
Sorry, Jack, but if you are considering a run for president, your chances are slim, very slim indeed.

Dan in New York writes:
Dear Jack, Never underestimate the power of looking good. But you can take some comfort in the fact that, if these predictors or true, Glenn Beck has no political future.

Bill writes:
It means some Americans are just as stupid as I thought they were.

Paul in Florida writes:
This whole 'attractive' theory flies right out of the window. Take a look at Barney Frank. Nice try, Jack.

Alex in Wisconsin writes:
Two words: Sarah Palin. See ya in 2012.

Filed under: 2010 Election • Election Process • Elections
soundoff (157 Responses)
  1. Suzanne

    It's all about looks. Our society is obsessed with being thin, perfectly coiffed and well off. In other words, "just like me." If a candidate is different in any way, "woe is he." It's regrettable, but it's true.

    October 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  2. Joe CE

    A lot of voters use even less logical criteria. Most would recognize their enlightened self-intrest if they tripped over it.

    October 27, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
  3. Joe from Brigantine

    Movie stars would rule the word.

    October 27, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  4. Dave, Orlando, FL

    What difference does it make? Regardless of who you pick, you will always get the same thing. A leader who will pander to big business and who will declare open season all year long on the average citizen. Do you really care if your getting robbed by a good looking crook or an ugly one?

    October 27, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  5. pat in michigan

    It means we are idiots and deserve the morons we are stuck with.I want a candidate who has run a business not his mouth.

    October 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  6. John

    Some will hope so!

    No one is voting for a T bagger because they have a grasp of the situation, the country or the consititution.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  7. AL Brown

    If voters choose a candidate based on their looks they are stupid, uninformed and their voting privilige should be revoked!
    Al Brown
    Gorham, NH

    October 27, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  8. Kevin in Minnesota

    It means you should stay in journalism, Jack.

    (corrected the name to make sense)

    October 27, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  9. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Jack, there are as many reasons for the way a voter casts their ballot as there are voters. Look at 2008, for crying out loud. This country elected a President, because he was "articulate", "had a great smile", "was young/energetic" and because "he was black". It has been said that Bill Clinton won because his face was balanced, symetrical, which tests with children have proved brings out instinctive feelings of trust. Anyone who really thinks that the majority of voters actually use rational thought alone, is insane!!!

    October 27, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  10. Dan in Detroit

    Well, Jack, it means that you end up with empty suitts, like Barry Obama.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  11. Sheldon, Deloraine, Manitoba, Canada

    Better than their incoherent policy statements.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  12. Clayton - North Bend, WA

    It means we end up where we have ended up. Judging by the current situation it's apparent the voters are choosing candidates based on somthing other than their ability to be statesmen and honest representatives of the people.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  13. John D.

    It means that we might actually elect Sarah Palin at some point. *shudder*

    October 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  14. keith in ky

    It's has already happened, 95 to 97% of the black vote going to our current president, guess that proves it's not wise to base your vote on looks alone, you need to do some research into the persons past -media- and see what thier agenda is !

    October 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  15. Joe Bisognano

    A while ago it was noticed that every other recent leader of Russia (or the Soviet Union) was bald or at least hair challenged. I guess this is because a dictator doesn't have to get elected and suffer from this "good looks" effect.

    Here in the US, you need to have won World War II to be elected without a good crop of hair.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  16. Mari, Utah

    I have heard that "short men" are not easily elected. What even worse is that we have a long history of voting for white men, though in 2008 that tradition was thrown out the window!

    However, Mitt Romney will have a tough time convincing Evangelicals & Baptists to vote for him! The "religion card" is still very much alive.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  17. Sunshine

    They're idiots if they do. But, I would vote Mitt as President any time and would have voted for him had he not been knocked out by McCain/Palin. That ruined it for Republicans.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  18. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Hi Jack,

    maybe it means they better look inside their own thinking!

    October 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  19. KEN in California

    Reagan was touted to be a Conservative and with his charm and good looks, almost broke California as Governor, and as President started the big spending spree that has continued till now. Indeed looks can kill.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  20. Baron

    America is truly a culture that values the packaging over the contents, Jack. Superficial voters get superficial representatives and the representation they deserve.

    St. Paul, MN

    October 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  21. Patsy, Texas

    Great News, Jack. Not only would all the tea-partiers lose because
    they are mean and incompetent, they are ugly too!

    October 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  22. Ralph Spyer

    Living in Chicago I would always vote for the , Irish, Polish or the Italian candidate because he or she would most likely be a Catholic. John F Kennedy beat Nixion in the first debate on TV because he look better than Nixion, but Nixion won the debate on the radio with the Americans public. Jack don"t run for office.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  23. ep_vet

    New hair didn't help Bob Ehrlich in his race for Maryland Governor. He had a new set of whole head wigs made and rather than gaining votes, the wigs made him look like a fool!

    October 27, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  24. Radagast in Minneapolis

    It probably has to do with perceived genetic fitness, on a very primal level. The same reason people seek out attractive, healthy looking mates. The same reason such people tend to be promoted more often and make more money. One would hope that, in the 21st Century, we would look deeper when selecting our leaders, but it's tough to override the impulses of millions of years of evolution.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  25. Jack

    We dirty old men wonder if it's best to sleep with a witch, an old maid or Tom Cruise.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  26. Chris in Los Angeles

    That you are in America?

    October 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  27. Linda in Arizona

    It means idiots like sarah mooseburger get elected when they have zero qualifications for anything.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  28. Eric Grant

    It's no different than people voting for a person because of the color of their skin or voting for a person based on their gender. I have known people personally that voted for candidates for those reasons alone.
    What it would ultimately mean is that we would have a house of good looking crooks instead of the crusty old ones we have now.

    Eric Grant,

    October 27, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  29. Gigi Oregon

    I don't know about that, Jack. Most of the married friends I have their husbands are bald and handsome. A man with a large head of hair can be pretty empty underneath Maybe that's the problem with our country...you think?

    October 27, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  30. Bob in Tampa, Fl

    They are blind.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  31. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Why should anyone actually believe a politician is honest based on looks? Take Madoff, he looked like someone's kindly grandpa, and yet he pulled off one of the biggest cons ever! So looks should never count for much.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  32. sue Manito, Il

    Looks and personality will get you there, but voters wise up eventually, just like we are seeing with the current pretty boys in Washington.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  33. Brian Wickremasinghe - Woodland Hills

    Sad that this is even a question. People should be more concerned about what is under the hair.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  34. Tim in Texas

    Hey Jack, what's the difference? The TP people will vote for you as long as you have eyes and want abortion to be illegal even in cases of rape an incest. That's pretty much the bright line isn't it? Miller, Buck, Angel, O'Donnell, Palandino, Paul. As long as you are willing to say that you want the government to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term – even if you were brutally raped, you'll get their votes. Being 'pretty' is just a bonus – I mean look at Palandino, they guy seriously looks like they dug him out of a grave.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  35. Rich McKinney, Texas

    It means that people are doing now exactly what they did over 200 years ago. People buy and vote on impulse more often then on good sense. If this were not the case then we would all be driving the same kind of car, eating the same kind of food and wearing the same kinds of clothes. We buy what looks good to us because we can see it with our eyes. No one goes out and buys a garbage truck to park in their driveway and take there family to the store in because it stinks and well it just isn't appealing.. Same with politicians.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  36. David Stone

    Allow me to answer this question with a question. When is the last time a bald or balding man running for president got elected? Eisenhower. The last election that happened where most households still did not have televisions and had to base their vote solely off of what they HEARD, not saw. No balding and / or ugly person is going to win the top spot, and nobody like this is likely to win anything important in today's shallow society. What does it mean for us? Just another stepping stone on the road to doom.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  37. Dan in Detroit

    Well, Jack, it means that you end up with empty suits, like Barry Obama.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  38. candace siderides

    It means that the voters are shallow, non-thinking idiots.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm |

    Yes, yes, yes. Some folks are shallow and stupid, mean, and what ever.
    tthat is why stupid Sarah gained a footing in politics. If she were real ugly on the outside as she is mean spirited and ugly on the inside, she would be ignored. but wait- I have watched white women age like me, her time will come- wrinkles and all my dear.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  40. Vicky from Milwaukee

    Looks no loner matter to the American voter. Now they vote for whom ever can scare them, re-enforce their biases, make them even more paranoid, and tell them they too can be rich.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  41. E.S. Holmans

    Of course looks matter; we are attracted to attractive people. I'm not sure that bad hair (or no hair) has as much effect as general demeanor, humor, and knowledge of current issues both in the US and world.
    But everyone knows the tallest candidate wins more often than not.

    E.S. Holmans
    Ex-pat Oklahoman in London, UKoGbaNI

    October 27, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  42. Claudia Dew

    I live in Tallahassee, Florida – very near the Georgia border so our residents have gotten a DOUBLE DOSE of the NASTY political ads this year! Just this afternoon, while attempting to watch our local news & enduring the constant stream of negative ads, I thought to myself, "I'm even sick of the ads of the candidates I'm voting FOR!!!" The candidates are all so nasty & negative this year it makes it hard to choose who is best suited for the job. Why NOT pick one because of their hair??? That may be the only positive thing in a race!

    October 27, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  43. Burbank from CA

    It means that they are very lazy, shallow people and a danger to themselves and society in general. It will be interesting to see who gets the Governor race in CA, both candidates are not exactly good hair examples. Jerry has none and Meg's hair style makes her look like she's bald with a comb-over. It's so unflattering, some bangs would do wonders for her! Between the two I'm voting for Meg. Does that mean I picked bad hair over none at all???

    October 27, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  44. Pam from Texas

    I don't even like to think of what it means because it's the basis of what's going on right now during the midterm elections. The "Unhappy Party" has been pushed out of its comfort zone and has not a clue what to do except to be an embarrassment to everyone else. They quote the Bible, the Constitution and whatever else they can take out of context. And yet they seem to be winning in spite of all of the rest of us knowing better. All I can say to the nonvoters, just remember you can't complain on November 3rd.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  45. Mike S., New Orleans

    I wish MIT would study what percentage of votes are cast for irrational reasons. That might explain some of the candidates, and presidents we have had. A dumb vote counts just as much as a smart one.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  46. Butchie

    Well, Jack it means that you and I won't be elected any time soon.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  47. weldon

    That is half the problem with why the country is in such a mess today. An IQ would help...............

    October 27, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  48. Kyle- DuPont, WA

    It means Nancy Pelosi will never be President.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  49. Will A, Las Cruces, NM

    It explains why we can't get anything fixed. Too many voters are idiots and would vote on American Idol and Dancing with the Stars before the person who will create jobs so they can afford cable. Sometimes its hard to think that my future depends more on someone's looks than someone's well researched solution. If we can't have voter education, then can we ban candidates that don't know the first amendment or what the vice president does?

    October 27, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  50. rex in portland

    It means, of course, that I would be president.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  51. Dr. Neil L. Kenny

    It means that those voters are just as superficial as the candidates they vote for.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  52. Keeth in Cali

    What do you mean, "What if?" People already do pick their candidates based on looks. Americans are very image-conscious shallow people.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  53. Mark In California

    We could are in deep trouble Jack, However as they are all Politicians, does that really matter. They're all out for themselves anyway.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  54. Greg in Mechanicsburg

    This reminds me of Robert Redford in "The Candidate." It doesn't really matter who gets elected, they are all beholden to lobbyists to write their bills and PACs to pay for their campaign ads. One way or another, they are all bought.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  55. Steve in Kent, WA.

    I think we should follow Obama's lead on this one too...."anyone that doesn't share Obama's beliefs on hairstyles should be considered the enemy, and should therefore be punished". Who would have ever thunk that Bush would exhibit more class as President than his holiness Boreack!

    October 27, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  56. Theresa

    This is so very true. Why else would Texans have elected Rick Perry to Governor so many times? He isn't qualified to be elected dog catcher.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  57. Steven P

    Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if voters choose candidates based on their looks?

    Isn't that what Democrat voters did in the priary of 2008? I mean, we even had someone make the comment of "Who wants to watch Hillary age in the White House?", if you remember.

    What does it get us? It gets us, in this case, the most inexperienced President that we have ever had. I don't think this guy has clue one. I'm an independent (which means I get no vote in the primary in my state), and I would have voted for Hilary because at least we know something about her. All we knew about Mr. Obama was....that he voted "Present" a lot.

    Same thing with music. I could care less that Aretha weighs whatever it is she weighs. I'm listening to her voice. You get my drift?

    October 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  58. Luci

    If that is the case, Abe Lincoln as a President. He was anything but good looking and what a hair-do. Gore and Kerry for sure would have been elected rather than what was. I usually look for intelligence, unlike the one some people would like to run. She has no brain at all. She would be an embarrassment. Can you imagine having a President that cusses, chins up to men, recieves underwear from a man, and screeches like a parrot? I'll take an educated polition any day. Looks do not matter.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  59. Don Desaulniers (Belleville, Ontario)

    It means you should run for office Jack. Nobody on TV better looking than you.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  60. The 2010, Colorado

    Jack, Here is what I think Voters should be aware of before they cast their votes: The so call good looking or as it refers as beauty in some instances and ugliness are just part of characters humans have. The beauty itself does not constitute any single meaning at all, instead it is a poor description of what is physically or visually see or seen in mental action. To me, clarifying the true meaning of good-looking or beauty is rather interesting…

    October 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  61. Arka Don

    Two words.

    Henry Waxman

    October 27, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  62. Sunny

    Just look at American history. There are no bald presidents despite majority of them being in their late 40's or 60's. FDR would never be elected had people known his physical condition. And this applies to the entire world. People select their leaders based on their looks, charisma or their past family connections. We have not changed from ancient times where only the kings and queens used to be good looking. In fact, there are very few, if any, presidents or prime ministers around the world who are not good looking. Hair do and will matter unless your name was Gandhi and the era was 1940s

    October 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  63. Charly in Del Mar

    Let's see – JFK versus Nixon, Regan versus Carter, Obama versus McCain – seems to fit. Nixon versus Humphrey – toss up. Oops – Bush versus Gore, Bush versus Kerry. Hmmm I guess there is "blind" luck this theory.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  64. Paul P.

    It makes sense when you consider how much of a shallow, materialistic society we live in and how much politicians market themselves as products using catch phrases and bumper sticker slogans. We're increasingly short-focused and make near instant conclusions about people and most everything else, and it doesn't bode well for future competence of government.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  65. Don Desaulniers (Belleville, Ontario)

    Not a bad idea, actually.
    Any of the Dallas Cheerleaders could have done a much better job than either Bush or Obama.
    Plus we would enjoy watching their speeches, even if we knew they had become politicians so were lying to us.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  66. Bruce

    We do! The 'look' of the corporate packaging. Certainly not their performance!

    October 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  67. Karl from SF, CA

    I'm not sure it's relevant. John Boehner's too tanned look, maybe yes, but Mitch McConnell's too shin,y over stretched kisser? Definitely not. Obama, with Biden, beat McCain with Palin, a toss up. I don't thinks looks mean all that much. I'll take Harry Reid and Jerry Brown over Sharron Angle and Meg Whitman, any day, but maybe that's a no contest on looks, too.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  68. Ishan

    I'm 18, and I'm presently running for a seat on the local college board. As silly as it is, most of the jokes I hear about my candidacy have to do with what a full head of hair I have. Let's face facts appearance is a hook. People come for visuals, and stay for substance.

    Fremont, CA

    October 27, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  69. Tam

    Ted Bundy was good-looking....

    October 27, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  70. Julie

    It means that I finally understand why Obama was elected.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  71. June

    Jack, it means we get what we deserve.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  72. Frank

    Lemoyne, PA

    John Boehner would be elected to every possible office in New Jersey.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  73. Michael Siever

    People will vote for someone if they have nice hair? Well, "Nice Hair" is my governor's (Rick Perry, R-TX) nickname, so he must be the right person for the job, despite how big of a misogynistic pig he is, and how many smoke and mirrors tricks he uses to make the Texas economy look better than it really is.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  74. prakash chand

    who would you marry,a gorgeous women or an ugly doctor?

    October 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  75. Joe in St. Louis

    This is America. They are citizens. It is their right.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  76. melanie

    It means that Barack Obama will be back in office!

    October 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  77. Featherpants

    How do you think Obama got elected!!?? Hmmmm?

    October 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  78. Erik Rieder

    This has been going on forever. JFK is a perfect example, as well as Regan. Some people chose GWB jr just because his dad was president. Hell, Clinton won me over because he blasted the sax on Late night.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  79. Sue McAlexander

    Yesterday I voted early for a bald Bill White for governor of Texas rather than the current governor, Rick Perry, known in these parts as "Governor Good Hair".

    Sue from Texas

    October 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  80. Bob

    It means someone like Obama can get elected with no experience or demonstrated skills to do the job.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  81. Elisa

    What does it mean, Jack? It means we are in trouble out here in California where the race for Governor is Bad Hair vs. No Hair.
    Newport Beach

    October 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  82. Dana Tan

    Jack, Why do you think McCain chose Sarah Palin? What do people comment on about her the most? "She looks good." Interesting isn't it? ..considering she's the Tea Party poster child allegedly fighting for more substance in Washington.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  83. Matt

    It means we're idiots!

    October 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  84. Bill

    It means some Americans are just as stupid as I thought they were.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  85. ross skoggard

    It's time to dump universal sufferage. Only people with brain one should be allowed to vote.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  86. Henning

    If the American people base their votes by the way the candidates look then how do you explain Bush?

    October 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  87. H A Rogers

    The survey must be true. Washington is full of politicans who have 35 dollar haircuts on 5 dollar heads.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  88. Jules, MD

    The capitol would be empty, Jack.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  89. Avery / Roseland NJ

    It means that Sarah Palin will be our next president.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  90. Colin Jensen

    The report, as reported, does not say that the better looking candidates win, but that the candidates that look like they'd do a better job win. That's a lot more legit than "the candidate with the better hair" as described in the news report. This is why the research worked worldwide when attractiveness varies so much. Basically it's saying Mitt Romney gets bonus points because he looks like he's descended from generations of successful politicians, not that Paris Hilton would win ever. If we're talking sheer academic statistical significance, that's not a bad voting policy...

    October 27, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  91. Arnold MI

    It means that we are true blooded Americans who can't see past the end of our noses. Hollywood and professional sports is what the US excels in, and will probably be the only major industries left in this country in the coming years.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  92. Ed Hein

    Elections decided on looks? It means that the Electoral College, as originally established, was a Good Idea.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  93. melanie

    It means that Barack Obama will be back in office!

    Chicago, Illinois

    October 27, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  94. Jerry - Oregon

    Jack, never under estimate the stupidity of the American voter! If Sarah Palin were a "dog" she'd only have her ignorance to run on. You know, like Sharron Angle!

    October 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  95. Les Stiles


    It means we are in very deep and troubled waters. Of course, we have sailing in these waters for years. The uninformed voter will be the fall of our Republic.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  96. Chase

    That were living in 1930's Germany, Jack.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  97. Tim M in Charlotte NC

    Why would chosing a leader be any different than how people chose executives, mates, etc. I used to work a an airport ticket line and the first class passengers were far better looking than coach. They are escalated in life, in jobs, and in status. This is not news, it's a fact.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  98. Jeff Wilson

    One look at the past several Speakers of the House will disprove the theory that people only vote for attractive candidates.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  99. andrew in aberdeen, nc

    Can you say President Michelle Obama and 1st man Barack Obama?

    October 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  100. Andrew from Boston, MA

    Really, because of good looks? I just thought the ubiquity of makeup, plastic surgery, and the like were just for fun. But you're saying being good looking predisposes people towards one in a positive manner? Well then.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  101. Steven in Missouri

    A famous person once said, "Beauty is only skin deep because it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside, its who you are on the inside."

    There is 1% of people in this world who are beautiful on the outside and on the inside.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  102. saul lichtine

    Dear Jack,
    Why should you be surprised. We live in a videocentric age where looks trumps smarts. Abe Lincoln, look out you would never ever have been elected. We choose someone we would like to have a beer with or we can swoon over not someone who can lead us to a better way of life. That is why we reap what we sow in this and previous election cycles here and abroad.
    Saul Lichtine
    Voorhees, New Jersey

    October 27, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  103. chuck barnard

    Voting for a candidate because he/she looks better than the opposition isn't any riskier than voting for a politician because of what he/she promises!

    stockton, ca

    October 27, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  104. belinda.williams


    I have heard it said that Barack Obama had an edge on John McCain because he was good looking and well you know how McCain looks. The reality is that in the black community we have alway put an emphasis on "good hair", and the boy with the good hair got all the girls and vice versa. It cannot be denied! I am definetly attracted to people with good hair and that would include politicians. I am not in denial but many won't admit it!

    October 27, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  105. Harley Oberhelman

    We all know what good looks means here in Texas. The late Molly Evins said current governor Rick Perry should be called :"Governor Good Hair" since that was his best quality. He is now running for a third term and seems to be leading Bill White, a talented but bald Democrat..

    October 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  106. Jim in Indiana

    It means the Democrats are badly in need of a darn good plastic surgeon...

    October 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  107. Naomi, Broomall, PA

    It means that there is nothing else of more substance from that candidate.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  108. Jack

    Judging by the current brood that we have in Washington, we haven't had
    that problem yet, Jack.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  109. John Haakenson

    I don't think you can assume voters choose candidates based on "movie star" looks. It might be that one candidate simply looks more intelligent than another.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  110. Kathy Vigil

    Voting on the basis of looks means that people do not deserve a democracy. They have to be romanced into voting and then do not have the intellegence to use the vote correctly. Maybe a good dose of a dictatorship will shock them into the reality that they do not seem to cherish at this time. Kathy from Sin City

    October 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  111. george

    Jack, if people vote for "good Hair" it just shows we need a better school system . Can you see Paris Hilton as president Help us all.


    October 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  112. Ethan

    It means there is no real expectations from a President and voters only view the role as a Spokes-person for that certain country. Charm goes a long way in this game which is why Clinton and Reagan won lots of the electoral votes.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  113. Brian Carpenter

    It means that we are human: Marketing shows that "looks" is how we choose our mates, our employees, and which brand of running shoes we buy. Come-on, surprise me.

    The up-side is that the 'look-test' failed 25% of the time. That is a good sign.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  114. Brian

    It just means that voters are human. It also means that the political party activists who vet their candidates have a responsibility to determine the level of knowledge of their candidates before putting them on the campaign trail. For example, shouldn't somebody in the Republican party have found out if the attractive Mrs. O'Donnell knew the first amendment before allowing her to debate.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  115. WR Jones

    It means they are wrong.., It's long been known that politics is show business for ugly people, so I don't buy that research at all.
    Just look at some of our elected officials, none of them would win any beauty contest. I won't mention names, but I'm sure there's a few ugly mugs that come to mind for all of us.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  116. Vincent

    What it means is that this country may very well be doomed to fall. Choosing leaders based on looks is just plain stupid. Nobody pays attention to the real issues anymore; the political landscape has become more like Hollywood. It also shows just how informed people really are; which of course is close to not at all. Why don't we just elect Brad Pitt or some Hollywood yahoo and be done with it?

    October 27, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  117. Ken in NC

    We do it now Jack. They all look like crooks and look at what we get every election. Are we batting 1000?

    October 27, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  118. dave in denver

    This doesn't surprise me seeing how superficial people are in america. Society tends to reward people based on physical attributes. Look at the highest paying jobs like sports and acting which both rely mostly on looking good or having physical prowess. We all know it doesn't take a smart person to be a star athlete or a famous actor/actress yet these people are praised by society. Who makes more money Lebron James or Barack Obama? The athlete makes tenfold what our president makes. That tells you what society values , pretty stupid.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  119. Edmund, SC

    I figured it ouit yaers ago. Women wote for the most handsom candidate.
    This is why I gave up my voting right, with an exeption of Obama, who is a handsom man , and he won. Also, I think, this why Ross Perot lost his election, even he was 100% right and I voted fo him twice

    October 27, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  120. Michael Barnhorst

    The answer is obvious ... and painful. Bill Maher said it well. "The American people are too stupid to get it." The majority of people in the world are stupid ... and abysmally ignorant. They are effectively sheep, bleating in fear for an alpha male to take charge and protect them. Why should we then be surprised that so many vote based on appearance? No surprise at all. But nonetheless frightening. But that is just simply how it is. And we have to accept it. (And if you are a Republican, exploit it.)

    October 27, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  121. Robert Williams

    Choosing a candidate based upon his or her looks is only a sign of our present ready-made culture. This type of judgment call occurs everyday in stores, banks and court rooms. Based upon a person's attire, hairstyle and mannerisms, the viewer or listener gives immediate respect or disrespect without ever truly getting acquainted with the facts. What's the phrase?: "Learn from the past or be doomed to repeat it!"

    Baton Rouge Louisiana

    October 27, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  122. Mike S., New Orleans

    It means the people in Barney Frank's district need glasses.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  123. John Acker

    If personal appearance wasn’t a factor in selecting people for positions of responsibility then new graduates from colleges wouldn’t be taught to dress for the interview. It doesn’t make sense but it is a fact.

    Kansas City, MO

    October 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  124. Bob, in Florida

    Come'on Jack:
    Another study that DID NOT need to be done.

    Let's face it, THIS country re-elected George W. Bush, EVEN THOUGH it was PROVEN a number of times before 2004 that George W. Bush was "intelligence challenged," and a slight warrior, sort of, BUT, good hair.

    Bill Clinton had ALL THOSE female encounters, NOT because he was a politician, it is because he has "good hair."

    Did Ronald Reagan have "good hair?"

    I think Jimmy Carter was a flook.

    Ford fell down alot, but he HAD"good hair."

    The evidence is all around us.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  125. Bernice Robinson

    It means they are superficial and lazy.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  126. David

    Well, it means we probably end up with a bankrupt country.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  127. laron

    It means we will have more Sarah Palin's running around. Honestly Jack, do you think Ms Palin would be so influential if she was overweight, and wasn't so attractive. It's a fact, she didnt get all of her notoriety due to her high intellect and ability to solve real issues. Its just a part of life, nothing will change.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  128. manuel aguirre

    It means that advertising a good looking but inferior product will work, Jack. Even cute witches with no susbstance stand a chance!

    October 27, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  129. Geoff in Virginia Beach, VA

    It's called the Sarah Palin effect. How anyone with such poor leadership skills and obvious intellectual deficiencies could continue to be politically relevant and a possible Presidential candidate baffles me. This is the only legitimate explanation. Thanks for telling us about this, maybe now people wake up and make Mrs. Palin irrelevant as she should be.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  130. Steve in Manchester, WA

    Come on, Jack.

    Brook Baldwin? Kathleen Parker,? Kyra Phillips? Kiran Chetry? Jessica Yellin? John Roberts? John King? Rob Marciano? Anderson Cooper?... just to name some of the most obvious anchors. It ain't just politics. Its everywhere. HOMELY need NOT apply.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  131. Annie, Atlanta

    My first vote ever was cast for Jimmy Carter because he had kind and trusting eyes as opposed to Ronald Reagan who grew up in my home state but looked & acted like a clown. Of course I also follow the issues rather closely, so does my vote for kind eyes count as a vote for looks?

    October 27, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  132. Kevin Durosky, Milford P.A.

    You're kidding, right ? This is a revelation ? Wether it's voting for Romney because he's handsome, for Hillary because she is a woman, or for Obama because he is black, I think this kind of stupidity runs rampant in this country. I called it quits long ago.... If you can't get rid of the ignorant voters, I won't waste my time. It won't change things anyway. Throw in ballot stuffing with busloads of people from either party who would normally not vote anyway, and the whole process becomes futile.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  133. Faisl Liban

    Now I know why my two favorite presidential candidates,Ron Paul Sir (R-Texas) and Denis Kucinich (D-OH) never draw near getting nominated

    October 27, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  134. Maddy in queens, new york

    Well that could be true, barack Obama is a very good looking man, he is calm, cool, and collected. He isn't overweight or stupid. He is aging gracefully. Michelle Obama is a lucky woman. I guess we did something right. But bush well he wasn't that good looking and he was elected twice. I really don't think its just looks I just think people are too stupid to see the actual issues that affect us. They worry about gay people marrying or omg OMBAMACARE!! But sometimes I feel like we took one step forward with obama's election and now with the mid-terms I feel like we are going to take two steps back. Frankly that represents the stupidity that is infecting this nation.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  135. Bud Lehn

    We had a glaring example of a candidate being elected on looks and speaking ability rather than experience in Barack Obama. John Mc Cain was lacking in charisma and speaking ability. The country is paying a price now for the electorate's shallowness.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  136. Dan

    This article explains why we are in a recession, our debt skyrocketing and our unemployment is so high. It also explains political correctness. However, it does not explain how Bush got elected.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  137. david bidlack

    elected people already know this and have used it for years.john kennedy was the firat to use it the new one is a great sounding slogan works well too. they know that most americans must have been sleeping in their history classes and really don't have a clue of how their goverment works. example of a slogan " how would you fix social sucerity"? "privetizing social sucerity will fix it". details of just how it would fix it is not required. its like saying put less money into your morgage account each mounth and that will fix your payment problem !

    October 27, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  138. Prince Zu

    Jack, I am indeed appalled and scared to death by the findings of this research. If good looks is all voters base their decision to vote for one candidate as opposed to another candidate on rather than basing their votes on the candidates' knowledge of the issues, then we must be ready to salvage the bus from the ditch every now and then as these "all hats but no cattle" candidates will certainly always drive it into the ditch and abandon it for whoever cares to go pull it out and fix it only for another good looking but not intelligent candidate to come and drive it once again into the ditch. God save US!

    October 27, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  139. Burbank from CA

    I just had an awful thought. What about shallow way-too-image conscious Brazil?? Do they pick their candidates based on who has the best face lift or lipo job?

    October 27, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  140. JW

    This is no suprise to Black American women Cafferty, the tighter the curl, the less likely one will get the job! That reality has created the $9B hair industry for the Chinese to capitalize off of American women trying to "get the job", Al Sharpton and Eddie Long to loosen their curls, & even John Edwards to pay hundreds for a hair cut. This ideaology of assimilation in America and around the world creates a superficial enviroment for ignorance and vain power. Ironically, I dont vote for candidates who are over the top in ANY way! I like the INDEPENDENT, self-thinking politician who speaks a real truth! Fake hair, and expensive hair cuts turn me off!

    October 27, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  141. Eric

    Yes, you can say the most appalling things and get away with it as long as you are a good speaker. And it's even better if you are good looking. Which is why women have an increasing chance of getting elected: a pretty woman is more appreciated than a handsome man. Just look at Christine O'Donnell: she's pretty, speaks reasonably well and is doing reasonably well even though her agenda is as hollow as her brain. The same could be said about Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle. Hitler too was a good speaker, and look where it took the world. Of course, his looks were rather drab, but he made up for it with flashy uniforms, et voila! As long as people won't think for themselves, they'll rely on fast talkers and good looks to make their opinions.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  142. Nathan

    Its quite obvious that people vote based on looks. Look anywhere from the proms and other school events. The only way you are elected is if you are a jock, cheerleader, or a member of some other popular click. Even in todays society you are given weird looks if you don't fit the bill of the typical all american. Why do u think minorities like blacks, gays, latinos and others have such a struggle to reach the same level even if they are qualified for the position. Its the school yard clicks all over again.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  143. Chris

    Jack – If voters truly pick candidates based on their looks, then you better not think about quitting your day job to run for office.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  144. Joe

    Lincoln along with several other past Presidents would not have stood a chance in today's politics. It isn't just looks, it is also a person's voice and delivery. According to those who heard Lincoln at the time, Lincoln had a high pitched voice. Howard Dean can tell you about the impact of delivery. With today's media coverage of virtually every movement of major political figures, the odds of a lanky, scruffy, high talking character winning would be zero. Sad but true. Political party leaders are well aware of the impact image has on candidates. We just have to hope that they not only look for the best looking candidates but also the best qualified. A pipe dream? Probably so.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  145. Arthur

    If president candidate has more female votes, look does take a big stand. But, it is very odd, if women majority president, economic normally gets better.
    I guess when women happy, they shop more, and economic is better.
    I don't care what man say, woman rules.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  146. Laurie from Port Huron, MI

    Judging from the anchors and contributors on FOX news, I think looks must have everything to do with how the "right" is influenced. Every time I tune in, just for kicks of course, I'm amazed at so much blond hair and so few wrinkles!! So based on that, I would say looks are a big influence. Must be why Christine O;Donnell is so popular, it certainly isn't her intellect It really is scarey what influences people today, because it doesn't seem to have anything with being a candidate who can talk intelligently about the issues! So sad : (

    October 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  147. Jim


    It means that voters haven't been paying enough attention to Sarah Palin. she has nice hair but turned her back on her state and constituents when they were no longer of use to her. It's a lesson Alaskans will always remember: Hair today, gone tomorrow!

    Reno, Nevada

    October 27, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  148. pelle

    Must be true. Here in Texas, Governor Rick Perry has an excellent chance of re-election, despite one of the worst performances by a politician in a leading role. (He even makes George W. look palatable by comparison. And I didn't think I'd ever say that about anyone). Perry may be as dumb as a rock and evil to the core, but he's got the best hair this side of the Miss USA pageant.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  149. Emmanuel M

    This phenomenon can be best understood from an evolutionary psychology perspective. What it means though, is that this segment of voters are either lacking in intelligence and know little about the issues or are simply apathetic. Evolve already, you morons!

    October 27, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  150. Docb

    If you are implying that Romney would be the example then no..But if it were the 'quitter', we have proof that many vote for pretend brawn and a 'big' mouth over brains! What does that tell you!

    Docb, denver

    October 27, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  151. Randy From New York

    I think it means that evolution's method of having us humans pick our mates applies to many of our other decision making processes.

    It's unfortunate, but true. Few of us use our heads when making important decisions.

    By the way, I didn't find this surprising. We learned about the impact of this "phenomenon" with the Nixon, Kennedy debates.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  152. rick atlanta

    It would mean we are shallow and uninformed. After all, look who we voted for in 2008. If we had just listened to the campaign speeches back then, we would have known we were electing socialists. Pretty is, as pretty does. Ugh.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  153. Wild Bill Minnesota

    Maybe not the best Idea, but a lot of people voted for Kennedy over Nixson because he looked a lot better then Nixson on TV, and they sure got that one right.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  154. anthony

    Sarah Palin for president!?!

    October 27, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  155. Kris

    Sarah 2012...

    October 27, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  156. lynnej in nc

    It means that we're vain idiots that deserve the disaster that they make in return when it happens.

    I'd rather a smart ugly person in office that speaks his/her mind and listens to the people than a pretty person in office whom has no mind, not to mention can't understand the seperation of church and state.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  157. Sara Schnorr

    What's the surprise? Good looks win out at every level of society and economy. The best looking boy and girl become the prom king and queen. In the workplace: every local TV station in the country values (and I expect prefers) physical attractiveness in their anchors and weather people; in professional businesses (like the law firm I've been with for 30+ years) both male and females who are taller than average, physically attractive (i.e., good hair and buffed bodies) and have blue eyes regularly move up the corporate ladder much faster and higher than their shorter, darker eyed and chubby colleagues. Face it, if you're a woman over 40, unless you maintain movie star good looks and wear a size 2, you lose out in the workplace to less talented, less experienced, and often less professional "lookers."
    Why should politics be any different?

    October 27, 2010 at 6:49 pm |