How They Win

| Tue Oct. 12, 2010 2:27 PM PDT

Via Jon Chait, a new study shows that the good looking guys really do get all the hot chicks votes. Three researchers did a study to find out if attractive political candidates were more likely to win elections, and in order to eliminate a source of bias they asked Americans and Indians to rate the attractiveness of candidates for Mexican and Brazilian offices:

Despite cultural, ethnic, and racial differences, Americans and Indians agree about which candidates are superficially appealing (correlations ranging from .70 to .87).  Moreover, these superficial judgments appear to have a profound influence on Mexican and Brazilian voters, as the American and Indian judgments predict actual election returns with surprising accuracy. These effects, the results also suggest, may depend on the rules of the electoral game, with institutions exacerbating or mitigating the effects of appearance.

Since, unlike Chait, I'm a serious blogger, I won't illustrate this post with a picture of George W. Bush in his flyboy days. Instead you get a chart. And it's really pretty remarkable. The study included ratings of 47 pairs of candidates, and as you can see the more attractive candidates had a better chance of winning (black dashed line). But that's not all! In an effort to add some value to this study, I drew red lines at the one-third marks, and the results are truly astounding. In the middle, things are kind of a crapshoot. But when one candidate has a strong appearance advantage over the other, the results are almost foregone. All of the eight ugly candidates lost and six out of seven of the dreamboats won.

I don't know if similar results hold for women, but if it does maybe Republicans would be wise to nominate Sarah Palin after all.

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