Re­veals the power of beauty at the bal­lot box FOUND THE POLLIES?

Sunday Mail - - NEWS -

mer, from the Uni­ver­sity of Ot­tawa, col­lected data on the phys­i­cal at­trac­tive­ness of can­di­dates run­ning for the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the 2008 elec­tion.

The pair then used the data to build the face of “ideal can­di­dates” in terms of phys­i­cal at­trac­tive­ness and model the elec­toral ef­fect of that at­trac­tive­ness on elec­toral mar­gins.

These re­sults were then as­sessed against mar­ginal seats to de­ter­mine whether can­di­date at­trac­tive­ness could sway elec­toral out­comes.

The re­sults found 62 per cent of mar­ginal races would have re­sulted in the de­feat of the can­di­date who won the seat if the op­pos­ing can­di­date looked like the re­searchers’ “ideal can­di­date” and was oth­er­wise iden­ti­cal to the ac­tual de­feated can­di­date.

Dr Praino said the re­search pro­vided the very rare op­por­tu­nity to have a tan­gi­ble idea of what is a “good-look­ing” can­di­date.

“Our ideal can­di­dates – that is the ‘young male’ and the ‘mid­dle-aged fe­male’ – are ranked very high in at­trac­tive­ness and we think they do rep­re­sent some kind of ideal look, in terms of how to max­imise votes based on phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance,” he said.

“The re­search sug­gests that unattrac­tive can­di­dates may have a tougher time get­ting votes but there is a clear way to coun­ter­act this im­pact by in­form­ing and ed­u­cat­ing vot­ers.

“In fact, this is the most im­por­tant side of this re­search. “Now that we be­gin to know and un­der­stand the im­pact of the phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance of can­di­dates on elec­toral suc­cess and the mech­a­nism be­hind this re­la­tion­ship, it is pos­si­ble to think about strate­gies on how to ‘cor­rect’ this is­sue.”

Dr Praino said that, for vot­ers, it was im­por­tant to note phys­i­cal at­trac­tive­ness has no pol­icy con­tent at all.

“A voter who is se­duced by the phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance of a can­di­date may end up mak­ing a choice that is against his or her in­ter­ests and pref­er­ences in terms of pub­lic pol­icy,” he said.

“This sim­ply should not hap­pen but un­for­tu­nately it cur­rently does.”

Deputy La­bor Leader Tanya Plibersek, who could fit the at­tributes of the ”Mid­dle-aged fe­male.”

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