Five-year-olds can predict election outcomes based on photos of the candidates. We can even guess whether a face belongs to a Democrat or a Republican at a rate better than chance, according to a forthcoming study out of Princeton.
Source. The latter study doesn't surprise me at all. Back before I was a monarchist, I sometimes worked at the voting polls. The day of a primary election, I found that after just a couple of hours, I could predict with a high degree of accuracy whether I was going to be asked for a Republican or Democratic ballot. Not only are conservatives better dressed, we're also much better looking. I have given credence to the research indicating that political beliefs are at least partly genetic ever since.
The study, conducted by psychologists John Antonakis and Olaf Dalgas at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, shows that Swiss children as young as five years can predict which candidates are more likely to win French parliamentary elections.
This finding contributes to a large and growing body of evidence, coming from many research groups, which shows that voters seem to be heavily influenced by a candidate’s appearance, and in particular the kinds of personality traits that a politician’s face projects. This result is strange considering the political stakes. We may agree that one candidate looks more approachable or intelligent than another, but why do we then allow these superficial impressions to guide our political preferences?
If you think about it, voting in a large national election – such as the US Presidential election – is a supremely irrational act, because the probability that your vote will make a difference in the outcome is infinitesimally small. The closest Presidential election in history was the 1960 contest between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. In that election, Kennedy’s margin in the popular vote over Nixon was 118,574. Disregarding for the moment the complexity of the electoral college system, it means that the probability that any one voter will influence the outcome of the 1960 election was 1/118,574 = .00000843355.
Why Do People Vote?