April 6, 2018
It is strange but true that most American politicians are clean-shaven—and that those who are not risk losing votes, especially from women.
Why is this phenomenon being discussed widely at the moment? Because President Donald Trump’s next National Security Adviser, John Bolton, not only has facial hair—but his mustache is so large it should have a ZIP code of its own.
He is set to replace the extremely clean-shaven Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster on April 9—who, “on the face of it,” is more popular with the public: Fully 41% of American women view men without facial hair as more attractive, 20% see them as more trustworthy, and 18% perceive them as more intelligent, based on findings of a YouGov poll released on April 3.
This is not a new trend. In fact, in 2015, The Atlantic magazine interviewed Rebekah Herrick, a professor of Political Science at Oklahoma State University who studied the phenomenon of facial hair and found that the reason fewer than 5% of federal legislators have a mustache or a beard is because they don’t want to adopt a persona that “might make them look insensitive to women’s issues.”
According to Herrick, this isn’t just politicians being paranoid. In her study, women subconsciously perceived politicians with beards and mustaches as being less feminist, regardless of their actual voting habits.
To date, YouGov reports, Bolton, mustache and all, has yet to make an impression on many Americans. Nearly four in ten have no opinion of him. Those who do are divided: 26% are favorable towards Bolton; 27% are not. But when asked about replacing the current National Security Adviser with Bolton, there is more disapproval than approval.
As one might expect, that assessment is heavily partisan.
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