May the Tallest Man Win. Does Being Tall Make You A Better President?

You must be this tall to be president.
You must be this tall to be president.

It came out this month that New Jesey governor Chris Christie had weight loss surgery. This could be just for health reasons. But more likely it’s for his public image. Mr. Christie’s name often comes up in talks for the 2016 presidential election, but would the American public be willing to elect someone so round.

After all, Mr. Christie surely doesn’t want to be called an Washington Fat Cat and look like one too.

But would the American voter really vote for someone based on looks? Well, yes. Consider this: From 1916 to 1996 there were 21 elections. In 15 of those the tallest candidate won. In  two of them the candidates were the same height. Only four times out of those 21 times did a shorter candidate win.

The trend may have broken down though. In 2000, Bush was an inch shorter than Gore and lost. Although Gore did get more votes overall, so you can probably count that either way. In 2004 the democrats sent the towering John Kerry to run, and lost. Finally the 6ft 1 Obama beat the 5 ft 9 McCain in 2008.  But then in 2012 the taller Romney lost to Obama.

So has the American public stopped listening to their eyes and started looking with their ears instead? After all, every president before 2008 was white.

That answer is unknown at this point, but Chris Christie is 5 ft 11 inches and Hillary Clinton is just 5 ft 7 inches. Maybe Mr. Christie is betting on history.

 

Election Winner

Height Main opponent

Height Difference
2012 Barack Obama 6 ft 1 in 185 cm Mitt Romney[38] 6 ft 2 in 188 cm 1 in 2½ cm
2008 Barack Obama 6 ft 1 in 185 cm John McCain[39] 5 ft 9 in 175 cm 4 in 10 cm
2004 George W. Bush 5 ft 11 12 in 182 cm John Kerry[16] 6 ft 4 in 193 cm 4½ in 11 cm
2000 George W. Bush 5 ft 11 12 in 182 cm Al Gore*[8][40] 6 ft 1 in 185 cm 1½ in 3 cm
1996 Bill Clinton 6 ft 2 in 188 cm Bob Dole[41] 6 ft 1 12 in 187 cm ½ in 1 cm
1992 Bill Clinton 6 ft 2 in 188 cm George H.W. Bush 6 ft 2 in 188 cm 0 in 0 cm
1988 George H.W. Bush 6 ft 2 in 188 cm Michael Dukakis[42] 5 ft 8 in 173 cm 6 in 15 cm
1984 Ronald Reagan 6 ft 1 in 185 cm Walter Mondale[8] 5 ft 11 in 180 cm 2 in 5 cm
1980 Ronald Reagan 6 ft 1 in 185 cm Jimmy Carter 5 ft 9 12 in 177 cm 3½ in 8 cm
1976 Jimmy Carter 5 ft 9 12 in 177 cm Gerald Ford 6 ft 0 in 183 cm 2½ in 6 cm
1972 Richard Nixon 5 ft 11 12 in 182 cm George McGovern[16][43] 6 ft 1 in 185 cm 1½ in 3 cm
1968 Richard Nixon 5 ft 11 12 in 182 cm Hubert Humphrey[43] 5 ft 11 in 180 cm ½ in 2 cm
1964 Lyndon B. Johnson 6 ft 4 in 193 cm Barry Goldwater[43] 5 ft 11 in 180 cm 5 in 13 cm
1960 John F. Kennedy 6 ft 0 in 183 cm Richard Nixon 5 ft 11 12 in 182 cm ½ in 1 cm
1956 Dwight D. Eisenhower 5 ft 10 12 in 179 cm Adlai Stevenson II[43] 5 ft 10 in 178 cm ½ in 1 cm
1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower 5 ft 10 12 in 179 cm Adlai Stevenson II 5 ft 10 in 178 cm ½ in 1 cm
1948 Harry S. Truman 5 ft 9 in 175 cm Thomas Dewey[42][43] 5 ft 8 in 173 cm 1 in 2 cm
1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt 6 ft 2 in 188 cm Thomas Dewey 5 ft 8 in 173 cm 6 in 15 cm
1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt 6 ft 2 in 188 cm Wendell Willkie[43][44] 6 ft 2 in 188 cm 0 in 0 cm
1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt 6 ft 2 in 188 cm Alfred Landon[43] 5 ft 11 in 180 cm 3 in 8 cm
1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt 6 ft 2 in 188 cm Herbert Hoover 5 ft 11 12 in 182 cm 2½ in 6 cm
1928 Herbert Hoover 5 ft 11 12 in 182 cm Al Smith[43] 5 ft 11 in 180 cm ½ in 2 cm
1924 Calvin Coolidge 5 ft 10 in 178 cm John W. Davis[43] 5 ft 11 in 180 cm 1 in 2 cm
1920 Warren G. Harding 6 ft 0 in 183 cm James M. Cox[45] 5 ft 6 in 168 cm 6 in 15 cm
1916 Woodrow Wilson 5 ft 11 in 180 cm Charles Evans Hughes[43] 5 ft 10 in 178 cm 1 in 2 cm

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