Overweight Political Candidates Get Fewer Votes

From the Department of Findings That Are Somewhat Predictable But Depressing Nonetheless: New research published in the journal Equality, Diversity and Inclusion suggests that skinny political candidates are more likely to be elected than overweight ones. The authors determined this by having research assistants use photos to judge the sizes of candidates from 126 primary and general elections culled from the 2008 and 2012 cycles, and then using statistical analysis to test for signs of bias. 

Signs of bias they found. Moreover, study co-author Mark Roehling, a professor of human resources at Michigan State, said in the study’s press release that “the greater size disparity between candidates, the greater the vote share of the more slender candidate.”

And, of course, there’s a gender component. From the release:

Both obese men and women were less likely to get on the ballot in the first place. When it came to merely being overweight, women were underrepresented on the ballot, though men were not. This is consistent with previous research showing men who are slightly heavy tend not to experience discrimination like that of slightly overweight women.

However, when it came to the voting, both male and female candidates – whether obese or simply overweight – got a lower share of the vote total than their more slender opponents.

Combined with the finding Melissa reported on last week that female candidates are punished for being less “traditionally” feminine-looking, one almost gets the impression that voters aren’t making decisions strictly based on close examinations of candidates’ platforms and past voting records.