Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A Quick Note On Electoral Psychology

Nathan Novak also has another piece in today's Taipei Times: on the likely electoral odds faced by both the KMT and the DPP for Taiwan's Presidential election next year. I agree with his general analysis - though I take far less interest in internecine party politics than most commentators (so what do I know?) - and I agree with his conclusion that it would be better for the DPP if their "old guard" were to sit down and allow a younger candidate to run, but his interesting conjecture about the importance of a candidate being "handsome" is, I think, probably true, but perhaps not for the reasons he gives:
"Not only does he [Su Chia-chuan (蘇嘉全)] seem a harder political target to hit than someone older and more established, but he is also, according to many females I’ve discussed Taiwanese politics with, relatively easy on the eyes. Readers may laugh, but the idea that Ma the candidate was handsome, young — and did I mention handsome? — caught the attention of many young female voters in 2008. Although physical appearance quite obviously says very little about an individual’s political skills and leadership abilities, it quite obviously says volumes to — shall we say “certain” — voters."
The idea that women voters will vote for a candidate simply because he may be "handsome", only, I think applies to those voters who are quite shallow in their political opinions - but not only shallow women voters, but shallow men voters too, for is there not a, perhaps universal, subconscious psychological association between physical attractiveness and either professional success or power? After all, aren't ugly jokes basically a form of schadenfreude? I can certainly say that my ugly friends* have to compensate for their appearance among the ladies by being funny (though putting on the funnies for the ladies is every man's "job" to some extent).

*At least I'm not naming names or putting up ugly pictures!


  1. You're right, Mike. I'd written about 300 more words (which the _TT_ cut out), about 30 of which were paranthetical explaining that I did not believe the majority of Taiwanese voters--especially women--to be that shallow.

    This part was also a dig at those who voted for Ma Ying-jeou (my ex-girlfriend, for example, and probably all of her female friends as well as quite a few other young women [some I used to work with, my former Chinese tutor, some of my current classmates]) who voted to Ma because "他很帥!" I had said to most of them at the time, "What does his appearance say about his ability to lead?" But you know people. . . .

    Keep in mind as well that had I been able to vote (and had I still believed in voting at the time), I probably would have given Ma my ballot.

    Most of those people who I still keep in touch with now dislike Ma very much (although I can't speak for all), but I found it very interesting how his exterior captivated so many at the time.

    There's a saying the US: if Kennedy were to have looked like Nixon, Nixon would have won. And I think not a few people voted for Obama because of his age and all the things the "Obama Girl" was trying to project. I'm sure I'll hear it from some people, particularly females, about this article, but one cannot dispute the fact that Ma's looks were very important in 2007-08 (even though some may deny that now).

  2. Yeah, well... a lot of girls typically are shallow and easily distracted when it comes to serious subjects. Assuming they aren't ugly themselves, then they're good for one thing only (and plenty of it)!

  3. Oh, someone's looking for a nasty comment. Lol!


Comment moderation is now in place, as of April 2012. Rules:

1) Be aware that your right to say what you want is circumscribed by my right of ownership here.

2) Make your comments relevant to the post to which they are attached.

3) Be careful what you presume: always be prepared to evince your point with logic and/or facts.

4) Do not transgress Blogger's rules regarding content, i.e. do not express hatred for other people on account of their ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation or nationality.

5) Remember that only the best are prepared to concede, and only the worst are prepared to smear.