When a politician tells us that he'll stick to his beliefs when in office, we usually murmur something about corporate interests and "the fat cats in City Hall." Well, it turns out that politicians are the ones who should be cynical about us. Science is finding that some pretty weird stuff can make us forget what we stand for on Election Day. At least the politicians are being swayed by briefcases full of cash. With us, it can be things as simple as ...
6Who Weighs More
Ever since JFK out-sexied Nixon during the first-ever televised presidential debates, looks have mattered in politics. Studies have shown that more attractive politicians get greater press coverage and more air time and of course, the best thing you can do if you are a lady politician is hit the gym. But looks also matter in ways you might not expect when it comes to which politicians people vote for, and being the most attractive isn't always the most important thing.
Unless you're a woman. We really can't emphasis that enough.
When it comes to men, being fit and attractive is helpful but nothing compared with being overweight. Apparently, voters see more rotund male candidates as more trustworthy and even more inspiring than their thinner competition. Other very detailed studies have shown that we tend to favor men with specific facial characteristics, which basically boils down to voting for more distinguished-looking gentlemen as opposed to "baby-faced" candidates.
With the obvious exception of Senator Giggles here.
It doesn't even matter what the candidates' policies are. Studies show that when people are presented with pictures of politicians for even a second and know absolutely nothing about the politicians' beliefs or what party they are in, certain candidates will always come out on top. And since that's the first thing you find out about a candidate, some guys are coming from behind to begin with.
According to a study at MIT this phenomenon isn't limited by where you vote. People in different countries continually find certain candidates more trustworthy and electable based on their looks, no matter how different their cultures. And as long as those politicians are guys, it is the chubby yet distinguished-looking ones every time.
Taft couldn't lose.
5Where You Vote
Anyone who has voted knows that the government isn't picky about what constitutes a "public polling place." The motto seems to be: If it would be considered slightly below average for a weekly bingo game, it's good enough for the linchpin of democracy. On Election Day, you might find yourself voting anywhere from a supermarket parking lot to some dude's garage -- as long as it can fit some curtained cubicles and a couple of old ladies making sure you don't cheat off your neighbor.
In addition to making you feel worse about America, the location where you cast your ballot might actually be brainwashing you with subtle environmental factors you don't even notice. For instance, studies have shown that if your local polling place is a school, you will vote yes for more school initiatives on the ballot, especially if there are teachers or students nearby. Using exit polling data, the studies found that this was the case even if the measures were not something the voters would typically support.
If they allowed crowded airplanes to act as polling places, everyone would be pro-choice.
It's difficult to get too outraged at those fat cat public school students who tricked you into paying for new text books. But a more recent study found that churches -- which are the most common polling locations in America -- can make you turn in a ballot that is more conservative than your actual beliefs. The study found that people casting their ballots in churches were more likely to vote against propositions supporting gay marriage and abortion rights, even if those votes conflicted with their beliefs.
Note to marijuana enthusiasts: As much as the voters enjoy your Peter Tosh cover band's "Legalize It" charity concert and space-cookie bake sale, if you really want to make a difference, you should lobby to move the voting booths out back behind the school and church dumpster. That should jog a few memories in the right direction.
School and church dumpsters: Covering up the smell since 1963.