Does Appearance Play a Role in Elections?

Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal

Georgia gubernatorial candidates Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal may fall into archetypes of political party appearance. PHOTO: WABE/Atlanta

Voters evaluate many factors before casting a ballot. According to Goizueta marketing professor Michael Lewis, this — at least subconsciously — could include overall appearance.

Lewis has a research interest in political marketing. This includes how the general “look” of a candidate can be used to identify Republican and Democrat affiliation.

He told Martha Dalton of WABE Republicans tend to have a more “rugged” look — something akin to a “high school quarterback” or “corporate CEO.”

The Democratic nod tends to go to someone that looks “more brainy,” though he’s not sure if that applies to the Georgia gubernatorial race between Democrat Roy Barnes and Republican Nathan Deal.

While not suggesting voters make decisions only on physical appearance, Lewis did say — with rising complexity of issues — people will often vote with their gut.

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