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?


Hillary's eyes are looking pretty blue to me...


1. All Mormons are Christians & LOVE Jesus.

2. An Even money bet on Romney to win the Presidency? I'll happily take the field against him.

Jeb Adams

I'm with Tommy_Grand--Mitt's got NO chance. Mitt burned a lot of bridges in Massachusetts--there's going to be some ugliness coming out of his gubernatorial career there if he wins at the convention--it will get unpleasant. At least Texas liked GWB when he came out. It's not a "Republican" thing either--he truly humped a lot of towns.

I can't see a Republican winning. They could nominate Lincoln again and the partystink would keep him out.

Matt Heffernan

What about Lyndon LaRouche? Anybody ever stare lovingly into his eyes? I know I have. Will his azure-hued irises finally pay off in 2008?


DB, then would you mind explaining why so many of the major figures in the founding of this nation were deists, by their own statements, not mine.

Jefferson and Franklin for starters. Oh, and Washington was a mason. In fact, there's a great book about the history of Washington DC that details a masonic procession to sanctify the ground, one that is recorded historically!

The nation was not founded on religious principles. Jefferson fought a horrific fight not to mention God in his writing, and had strong supporters as well. The nation should not have leadership chosen by whatever religion they claim to follow, but by how well they lead. How well they keep their promises would be a nice start, too.


Americans are apparently not quite as enlightened and open-minded as we like to think.

Americans have not been seen as "enlightened" or "open-minded" by the world outside our borders for a very long time. Why else would people of other nations talk about "ugly Americans?" We are seen instead as closed-minded, bigoted, hateful, rude and interfering. And then we wonder why terrorist groups target us.

Sounds to me like the nation needs new mirrors.


Oh, and DB... send that quote to Bush would you? Maybe he'll realize he's breaking his oath of office and quit?


It's interesting to note that Nixon was the first person to be elected after all three major TV networks (NBC, CBS, ABC) went to color TV broadcasts. That means that we can safely say that ever since color TV has been the norm, every single US President ever elected has had blue eyes.


@21 ... if Bush hasn't made you defect yet, I doubt a Thompson or Romney would.


If I remember correctly there have been a disproportionate number of left-handed presidents. Any lefties running?


I can't believe this conversation has turned to a "will people vote for a Mormon" debate. Are we really so petty in American that religion matters? How about picking the person who has the best ideas for fixing the very serious problems facing our nation?

BTW, I read on another discussion board that foreigners are laughing at us for this very issue. They think we're ridiculous if we actually make presidential decisions based on religion. I agree with them. That's a ridiculous reason to vote (or not vote) for somebody.

Jim Strathmeyer

This is why I don't vote.


@ EB

Why else would people of other nations talk about “ugly Americans?

I've lived in Europe many times over the last 35 years, and can tell you, in that time people have always thought Americans were ugly. Want to know why?

It's annoying when you were once a great country (England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, you pick), and now this young upstart with no 'culture' is kicking your butt.

Can former president Clinton fix this; doubtful, I lived there for 2 years during his presidency, and the Eurotrash couldn't stop complaining about how bad America was ... as they crowded into the McDonalds to order their Coke and fries.

Oh and about this post .. well, I have a more glaring fact ... none of the presidents elected since Eisenhower have been 'balding' ... doesn't bode well for Giuliani. (Note: Ford wasn't elected).


I always thought it was just me who never noticed eye color, good to see others don't as well. I even have a hard time noticing the color of a girl's eyes.

Going to chalk this up to 'guy stuff that women don't understand.'


Hey Dubner . .You really think women only care about eye color when they vote? Are you kidding me? I'm usually a huge fan of this blog but that was appalling. You mean if Pam Anderson ran for President. .she would win because shes blonde and all the guys would vote for her? Is this high school? Are you for real?


A man does not consciously have to notice and prefer blue eyes for it to influence how his perception of someone.

I'm gonna go with the Selfish Gene/Red Queen theory that the preference towards blond hair is one that is related towards a genetic preference of youthful features. Same goes for blue eyes. Having to do with reminding someone of older days has nothing to do with it.


Going to chalk this up to ‘guy stuff that women don't understand.'

— Posted by Charles

It's not just guy stuff.

My guy says his eyes are blue. I always thought they were more hazel. We've been together for 1 1/2 yrs and known one another for going on 12 yrs... and I'm not color blind! *lol*


Are we really so petty in American that religion matters? How about picking the person who has the best ideas for fixing the very serious problems facing our nation?

Yes. We are. Religion matters in every issue. It shouldn't, but it does.

Your idea is great. Now, how do we convince the rest of the nation?


If we're looking from Johnson on, we're looking for a blue eyed, left handed, full head of hair candidate ... with no facial hair, and was either a governor or former vice president (all elected presidents have had this last trait) ... I don't think any candidates meet this criteria.

Interestingly, only 3 of the current 17 main party candidates have been/are governors; and the only one that stands a chance of winning is Mitt Romney.


I have done an in depth statistical analysis on the last 43 presidents and there is a high correlation between being male and being president.

Therefore Hillary Clinton won't win the election, even though she has blue eyes. Or perhaps there is slightly more to it than dodgy regression anaylsis