The country is preparing for another presidential election. While we hope that the candidate’s stance on issues is what matters; does physical appearance play a role at all? In the modern age, paintings have been replaced by high definition close ups and candids of the candidates. In other elections, the voter may not know how the person looks (does anyone know how each representative appears in their area), but the president and presidential candidates are some of the most highly photographed individuals in the world. Unfortunately, much of a person’s perceived likability revolves around looks and in fact many people form an opinion about someone within 30 seconds. What is even more controversial is what specific facial features makes someone appealing, trustworthy and overall likable.
It is not unusual to see former actors to run for office with looks and charisma often attached to each other. We can think of candidates such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Regan, etc.
If we look at the presidential election since 1980 and look at physical appearance alone, the election results tend to sort themselves out. Ronald Reagan (former Hollywood actor) won easily over Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan then easily defeated Walter Mondale. A much older Reagan still looks more polished then Mondale who has prominent eye bags and a sour expression on his face even at rest. George H. Bush defeated Micheal Dukakis, perhaps because of his overly prominent eyebrows. The Democratic party found its success with Bill Clinton, thick hair and charisma attached, who easily beat George H. Bush. Bill Clinton easily beat the next candidate to come along Bob Dole. George W. Bush and Al Gore were evenly matched it appears in one of the closest elections of all time. George Bush however easily beat the much longer faced John Kerry. When the 2008 election came along, a fresh faced Barack Obama easily defeated John McCain.
Now we have perhaps one of the most important elections in 2012. Barack Obama will face Mitt Romney in what appears to be a close election. Interestingly, there is not a consensus on who is the “better looking” candidate. Hopefully, voters vote for whom ever they believe is best for the country and not let appearances play a role.