It is amazing how informative watching a debate involving U.S. presidential candidates can be. I was expecting to learn more about the candidates’ positions on various issues of critical national importance such as the economy, immigration reform, etc. during the 11th Republican debate. Instead I got to hear about the candidates’ anatomy. The Donald was hands down the winner of the TMI category assuring us that he has no problems when it comes to the size of his male anatomy. And he also pounded the fact that poor Marco Rubio is “Little Marco.” Silly, huh? Well, maybe not.
The fact of the matter is that size does indeed matter for presidential candidates. Their height is a telling factor as to their probability of success in the election. Surely she jests, you are thinking. Nope. Researchers at Texas Tech University have given us the Presidential Height Index. The taller candidate won the U.S. presidential election 58% of the time between 1789 and 2008. Since 1900, the taller presidential candidate has won the election 19 times to the shorter candidates’ 8 victories. Nineteen U.S. presidents have been over 6 feet tall, including our current president, Barack O’Bama who stands 6’1: tall. Honest Abe Lincoln, one of our most beloved presidents, was our tallest president at 6’4″ tall.
So when voters size up candidates, they are really and truly sizing them up and are drawn to the taller candidates. But why is this? The explanation given is that in the back of our minds we equate height with strength and health. Our primal instincts apparently motivate us to gravitate towards the strongest leader.
So what does the Presidential Height Index lead us to conclude will happen in the current presidential race? The Donald trumps everyone since, at 6’3″, he is the tallest by far of all of the candidates, Republican and Democratic. When he referred to Marco Rubio as “Little Marco,” he was absolutely correct. Marco is a mere 5’10” tall, so The Donald is five inches taller than the Senator from Florida. Inches really do matter, but perhaps not in the way in which The Donald alluded with a show of his hands.
Ted Cruz has been suggesting that Rubio drop out of the race. While Ted may have more victories and momentum, Marco has the height advantage. He’s two inches taller than Ted Cruz who is only 5’8″ tall. Although lagging far behind the others (but having been endorsed by Arnold Schwarzenegger), John Kasich is the challengers’ best hope to beat Trump because he is 5’11” tall.
The Democratic field of candidates is much smaller and also much shorter. The candidates are neck and neck, at least when it comes to the Presidential Height Index. Bernie Sanders is 5’8″ while Hillary Clinton is 5’7″ tall. While at first blush it would seem that Bernie has the edge, there is a gender difference. Although shorter than Bernie, Hillary is 3 inches taller than the average American woman who stands only 5’4″ tall. Bernie is short for male presidential candidates in general.
In boxing fans eagerly review the tale of the tape for anatomical measurements to see which fighter is likely to win the bout. The Republican presidential candidates may act like fighters with all their sparring, taunting and insults, but the prize each seeks is not one where physical prowess or strength is the biggest asset for running our country. Just me, but I would prefer brains over brawn for the figure who will occupy the Oval Office. Personally, I don’t care what size hat that person wears, as long as he/she, as my mother would say, has his/her thinking cap on while running our country. I don’t care if he/she is short just so long as he/she isn’t short-sighted. Bottom line? Filling the White House is a tall order. Let’s use our brains to choose the candidate who will be the biggest asset to our country, and I am not talking physical size.