It’s no secret that Mitt Romney’s a good looking dude. But Harvard political scientist Ryan Enos has run an experiment to prove it. According to Enos, Romney ranks above the 99th percentile as compared to other politicians in terms of looks.
So how is this actually measured? In a 2007, Enos and his colleagues showed undergrads photos of lesser known politicians (of which Romney was one at the time) and asked them to rate how competent they looked based on face alone.
And what a face it is! We gathered the ratings of 728 candidates for Senate and Governors’ seats and Romney outscored all but four of them. The only persons to win election that beat him are Russ Feingold (the best looking Democrat) and John Thune (the best looking overall). Romney also appears to far outdo Paul Ryan, who came in in the 67th percentile of the 2004 House candidates (although the photos did not include abs). (Also, that study only included white male candidates and the House was not measured on a common scale with Senators and Governors, but I’d feel pretty confident saying the 67th percentile of the House puts you well behind Romney).
We don’t have a rating of Obama because we deemed him too well-known, even in 2007, because his Senate race had attracted a lot of attention and there was already an excitement building around a possible White House bid. However, we do have a score for Biden—and Romney has him beat badly. Biden only comes in the 62nd percentile of Senate and governor candidates.
You can read more about the methods used here. While there’s significant correlation between this measure of looks and electoral success, Enos writes that the connection is unlikely to say much about how people actually vote. As he puts it:
Rather than good looks directly affecting voters’ decisions, it is likely that good looking people like Romney have a lot of success in life, obtain significant human capital—education, career success, education—and because of all they have to lose, they are strategic about which races they enter.
Thank goodness. Feel free to debate the hotness of politicians in the comments but please go read some stuff about policy afterward to make up for the time spent on this post.