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Smile Power in Politics: What We Can Learn From Candidate Grins

By Caroline Jacobson on December 1, 2015 in Just for Kicks


From Hilary Clinton to Donald Trump, politicians have been wielding their smile power across our influential state this campaign season. Can something as minuscule as a smile, on the grand politico platform really make an impact? You'd be surprised:

Smiles can influence elections. In a crowded political field, votes often come down to sub­lim­in­al qual­it­ies. Candidates who smile in campaign photos have improved polling outcomes, compared to those who don’t smile. It's a fine line for tough-as-nails politicians, as smiling is a submissive behavior. In fact, smiling revealed the loser of martial arts matches.

As contentious as politics can be, it's not an MMA fight. So don't count on Marco Rubio pulling a Ronda Rousey anytime soon.

The science of smiling is subtle in politics.

To a voter's subconscious, a smile is a glimpse into a can­did­ate's per­son­al­ity. A speech can be scripted—but smiles are not. If a candidate shows a subdued smile in the face of crowd cheers, it may in­dic­ate bash­ful­ness. People who smile as their opponents are attacked may signal vin­dict­ive­ness.

It's not that one smile is better than an­oth­er, it's that the smile should be consist­ent with the message. If a can­did­ate is speaking about hope for the future, his or her smile should appear happy, not staged or con­temp­tu­ous.

So, no matter which party you are caucusing for, add a final gut-check before approving their agenda and look at his or her smile before you cast your vote. Which candidates' smiles will stand supreme in Iowa? Share your thoughts below!