Report: Rubio's Hair Loss May Hurt Presidential Bid

Image: Report: Rubio's Hair Loss May Hurt Presidential Bid (Michael Reynolds/EPA/Landov)

Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 10:46 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is going a little thin on top — and his hair loss may just mean that he will end up losing his shot at becoming the next president of the United States.

Americans have not elected a bald candidate to the White House in 58 years, when President Dwight Eisenhower won his second term over Adlai Stevenson, who was also folliclely-challenged, International Business Times reported

Voters tend to pick the more handsome or attractive candidate, as indicated by President Barack Obama's defeat over Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008, who is nearly 30 years older than the Democrat, according to the newspaper.

However, that is not always the case. Distinguished Republican candidate Mitt Romney had a very presidential air about him in 2012, and he also had a healthy head of hair — and yet he still lost to Obama.

In Rubio's case, his youthful good looks helped him to win over voters in 2010, complemented by his Cuban roots and his beautiful wife, a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader.

But his looks have started to fade along with his hairline, just at a time when he's considering a presidential run in 2016 as the GOP candidate. And Rubio's support may just fade away, as well, said the Times.

"Presidents and CEOs tend to present themselves in a particular way. They are taller than average, and they tend to have particular features that suggest authority and virility," says Jennifer Gaboury, a political scientist at Hunter College in New York. "So a full head of hair, being clean-shaven, and being tall in this current period suggests a kind of manly command."

Rubio admitted that his hairline was receding in 2012 after Esquire magazine ran a story about his vanishing locks. In a joking, self-deprecating response, the senator tweeted: "Esquire report on having less hair than I once did is sadly true. But good news is I am still in upper 2% in Senate."

In private, Rubio could be seriously jealous of possible presidential rival Texas Gov. Rick Perry, with his long wavy locks, or even the graying mane of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. But The Washington Post investigated the Rubio hair crisis and found that he has no reason to fret.

John Sides, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University who specializes in public opinion and American elections, quoted two studies from the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior into whether bald and balding men are "underrepresented in high elective office."

Sides wrote that the first study compared the amount of hair loss among governors and members of Congress with the public in general and found that officeholders are "much more likely" to have a full head of hair than most men their age.

But the second study tested voter bias against bald and balding candidates by presenting voters in a simulated congressional race with materials depicting seemingly identical candidates with either their natural bald or balding condition or wearing a professionally fitted hairpiece.

The report said that no voter bias against bald or balding candidates was apparent, suggesting that "the causal mechanism underlying underrepresentation of bald and balding men is not voter bias."

Sides concluded, "So, Sen. Rubio, no need for Propecia or implants. Whatever hurdles you may face in 2016, your hairline isn't one of them."

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