Is Eye Color the Key to the White House?

Despite Fred Thompson‘s so-so performance in his first presidential debate, and despite his serious lag on InTrade (Giuliani, 39; Romney, 24; Thompson, 19.5), the blogger Noele Kensut is calling for Thompson to win the White House.

Why? Because he has blue eyes.

Eye color is one trait, Kensut writes at Mijka Samora‘s Reality Journal, that every president since Richard Nixon has had in common. Their opponents, meanwhile, usually have had dark eyes. I trust Kensut on this fact — though I must say, I almost never notice the color of a person’s eyes, at least not men.

But maybe that’s the point: maybe it’s women voters who do notice, and care, and put the blue-eyed candidate over the top. And maybe it’s not a coincidence that a female blogger noticed this pattern.

Could it be that blue eyes provide a similar advantage for men that blonde hair does for women? As we wrote in Freakonomics, blonde women (whether natural or not) do far better on online dating sites than non-blondes. And the experimental economist John List has shown that blonde women outperform all other candidates when it comes to soliciting charitable donations.

Here is the key to Kensut’s argument:

Today only 1 in every 6 Americans, or 16.7% of the population, has blue eyes. This percentage has been dropping in part due to immigration from non-European countries. A 2002 Loyola University study found that as many as 50% of Americans born in 1900 had blue eyes. The choice of an American with blue eyes for President may signal a voter preference for someone with deeper roots in America, vs. a relative newcomer.

Kensut predicts that Thompson will eventually beat out John Edwards, who also has blue eyes, because Thompson is “taller and more rugged.”

FWIW, if I were a betting man and had to place a bet today, even money, on who will win next November, I’d go with the candidate I’ve been picking for the past six months: Mitt Romney, LDS membership and all.

And you?


I have sort of a hard time believing that people will really vote for a Mormon, especially if some of the more quirky beliefs of Mormons come to light during the campaign.


forget eye color. I'm voting by breast size of either the candidate or candidate's wife. So far Fred Thompson is my favorite.
Can anyone prove my choice wrong...with pics?


Headline: HRC sports blue contacts in debate.


I've still got my fingers crossed for Ron Paul although I don't believe the vast majority of Repub party members like his honest style.


I don't think most voters will vote for a Mormon either. To be president, you have to at least pretend to be Christian to get the votes. I have no evidence to support this theory, but I think most presidential candidates are atheists who pretend to be faithful in order to be palatable to the common folk. Mitt Romney and George W. Bush are probably honest about their faith, but I would be willing to bet the overwhelming majority of presidents and presidential candidates are “heathens”.


Lovely generalization. Because you are a man and you don't notice eye color, most men probably don't notice eye color, whereas Kensut is a woman and she noticed eye color, so women voters in general do tend to notice eye color. Somehow your sample size of 2 is less than convincing...


I'd bet on Ron Paul.


This doesn't bode well for Obama...


I'm thinking that Thompson will sweep it at the end. I don't think it's because he's "more rugged" I think it's because he's saying everything this country has been begging to hear, and better yet, he believes it!

Romney, I don't think will take it. There are too many Christian churches out there teaching about how evil the LDS are and how it's just a cult and thus of "the spirit of the antichrist."

He may LOOK like a president, but I doubt seriously that he'll be one.

As for Obama, he's running. It's a big thing. I could see him getting the VP office, but not the actual presidency. This country isn't any more ready for a president who isn't white than they are for a president who isn't a man. Maybe in a few more decades, but not right now.


Esteban, you have a point.

Though, I'm still wondering why religious preference of a candidate is even an issue. The idea was, as I understand it, NOT to have politics dictated by religious belief and to keep the two separate to preserve the nation.


Maybe in the States eye colour is an issue, mines are dark as Coke.

Dark hair also so I guess this ends with my political career and explains my low ability to ask for money!

I read somewhere that publicists tend to use blue or green eyes on advertising because you can see the pupil.

The standard biological response when you see something you like is to dilate your pupils.

As people tend to do or feel what they see (you tend to cry when you see someone crying in a movie and the same happens with smile) it's a common trick to use close-ups of the product you are trying to sell and close-ups of someone who is watching it with light eyes and huge pupils.

No idea if this is true or not but I found it interesting. If someone ever heard of this and knows is true please let me know!

Allen Varney

Wasn't it this very blog, back in 1816, that predicted that, because the last four presidents wore powdered wigs, so would the next president? The James Monroe victory pretty much scotched your theory.

And then again in 1896, the Freakonomics blog was convinced that because the last six presidents had facial hair, so would the next. William McKinley sure showed you. (And his opponent, William Jennings Bryan, was also clean-shaven, so you would have been wrong anyway.)


I like Fred and the fact that the pundits and the drive by media keep spinning against him. More and more real Americans are leaning his direction. The more its reported that he isn't doing well, the more average americans doubt the news media. Maybe his candidacy will have a two fold effect, to elect a president and discredit the media elite.



The idea is NOT to have religion dictated by the government. Not the other way around, as you claim.

The first amendment reads:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . ."



RuPaul is my bet,
especially if he wears his blonde wig and blue contact lens at the debates.


That's it?? No data to back up either the blue-eye theory or the Mitt bet?

Why am I reading this again? You guys are slipping.


It's easy to find these "common characteristics" when one can just mine the data and fit a post-hoc rationalization to it. If I had enough information about seven random people I could find something in common among all of them too.

Christopher Sorensen

I think it's a sad sign that Americans really have not moved past their petty prejudices and stereotypes when they say the things they do about Mitt Romney's being Mormon. Americans are apparently not quite as enlightened and open-minded as we like to think. Until he starts bringing Mormonism into his campaign, he is merely a candidate like anyone else, and the anti-Mormon bigotry that is directed against him, including the above, is reprehensible and sad.


I'm still of the opinion that the presidency doesn't matter anyway. As for religion, wouldn't it great that, if asked, a candidate would say "my religion is a private matter." Then we could get past it to the issues.


I sure hope the fate of our country doesn't come down to eye color! I might defect if either Thompson or Romney become President.

By my calculations (and by that I mean vote), this country will catch up to the rest of the world by having a President who is either female or not a white man! (Finally!)