Saturday, July 31, 2010

Republican Presidential Candidates and Facial Hair

Somehow I missed this when it came out. At The Volokh Conspiracy eponymous blogger Lawprof Eugene Volokh reported back in March on Kalt's Law (named after Prof. Brian Kalt), which provides that “Under the modern two-party system, if a candidate has facial hair, the Republican always has as much, or more, than the Democrat.”
1. It would be the case that the Republican always has more, but for 1904 in which both the Republican Roosevelt and the Democrat Parker had mustaches.

2. This goes by coverage, not amount of hair as such (e.g., 1872: a full but short beard (Grant) is more than a long “neck beard” (Greeley). In 1904, Parker had a longer mustache than Roosevelt, but it doesn’t look like it covered more (see #1).

3. Here is a full table of pairings, Republican vs. Democrat:
1856, Frémont (beard) and Buchanan (nothing)
[in 1860, Lincoln didn’t grow his beard until after the election]
1864, Lincoln (no-mustache beard) and McClellan (mustache)
1868, Grant (beard) and Seymour (neck beard)
1872, Grant (beard) and Greeley (neck beard)
1876, Hayes (beard) and Tilden (nothing)
1880, Garfield (beard) and Hancock (vandyke)
1884, Blaine (beard) and Cleveland (mustache)
1888, Harrison (beard) and Cleveland (mustache)
1892, Harrison (beard) and Cleveland (mustache)
[1896 and 1900 featured no facial hair]
1904, Roosevelt (mustache) and Parker (mustache)
1908, Taft (mustache) and Bryan (nothing)
1912, Taft (mustache) and Wilson (nothing)
1916, Hughes (beard) and Wilson (nothing)
[1920 through 1940 featured no facial hair]
1944, Dewey (mustache) and Roosevelt (nothing)
1948, Dewey (mustache) and Truman (nothing)
[1952 through 2008 featured no facial hair]

4. No Democrat ever had a full beard.

5. Starting with their very first candidate, Frémont (and overlooking Lincoln’s quickly rectified lack of a beard in 1860), every Republican until 1896 had a beard. Besides McKinley, every one of them until 1920 had some facial hair.

6. Why would this be? Some amount of coincidence, surely. And some playing fast and loose with the terms (see 1904). But there may have been some difference in regional styles — other than Roosevelt and Dewey, the Republicans were all from the relative hinterlands (California, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana).
H/T Daniel Foster at The Corner.


  1. I just ran across a great picture of the generation of William Lloyd Garrison's kids in the 1880s. A very hirsute group!

  2. CW,

    Yikes! I'm not sure I'm going to invite that bunch to my next party. At least the women don't have beards.



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