Friday, October 03, 2008

Half Assed Theory Of The Day.

There is an old saw that the taller candidate always wins the US election. It isn't quite true although there is a strong positive correlation, and the average height of US presidents is comfortably more than of the average US man, which is remarkable when you consider that the office began in the 18th century when the average height would have been considerably less than it is today.

Anyway this got me thinking, do presidential candidates always choose running mates shorter than themselves? This time around Obama is 6'1 and Biden 6'0, McCain like a lot of fighter pilots isn't very tall at just 5'6 or 5'7, which would have made it tricky to find a shorter male running mate but Sarah Palin is shorter even in heels (despite being a college basketball player). Using the internet to look up the height of past candidates gives the following results:

John Kerry 6'5
John Edwards's 5'10

George W Bush 5'11
Dick Cheney's 5'6

Al Gore- 6'1
Joe Lieberman- 5'9

Bill Clinton- 6'2
Al Gore- 6'1

Bob Dole- 6'0
Jack Kemp- 6'0

George H.W. Bush- 6'2
Dan Quayle- 6'0

Michael Dukakis- 5'8
Lloyd Bentsen- 6'1

So since Dukakis back in 1988 the pattern holds pretty strong with eight consecutive tickets having a taller Presidential candidate. The likelyhood of this happening by chance are about 1 in 256. George H. W. Bush was an inch taller than Ronald Reagan to make him the last sitting veep taller than his President. What does this demonstrate? No idea, perhaps that presidential candidates are terribly insecure or are aware of the old trope described earlier.

This appears to be a particularly American thing, in Europe the vertically challenged have had fewer problems attaining the er heights of political office with the likes of Nicholas Sarkozy, Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin all currently in office despite being about the same height as McCain.

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