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There's a theory that the most charismatic candidate for president usually wins. Looking back over history it's pretty hard to argue with that.

Thats a valid theory, but only going back to the dawn of TV/Radio. Before that politicians actually had to have some content in their messages.

for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln%E2%80%93Douglas_debates

The format for each debate was: one candidate spoke for 60 minutes, then the other candidate spoke for 90 minutes, and then the first candidate was allowed a 30-minute "rejoinder." The candidates alternated speaking first. As the incumbent, Douglas spoke first in four of the debates.

Those were 3 hour debates. Now all a politician has to do is look good holding a football.

(this is basically paraphrasing Neil Postman's work from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amusing_Ourselves_to_Death)

There's a good book on this subject from 1985, where the author explores how the requirement in politics is no longer real action/results it's entertainment.

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business


Well I mean it's a joke today... the fiscal cliff wasn't mentioned in any of the debates.

I think that is a bit of an ad hoc fallace.

Sure, because Obama won we declare him the most charismatic candidate. Had he lost, people would say the oposite, declaring him 'professorial' 'aloof' or 'elitist' (all criticisms directed at Obama at times in the media) and point out his lackluster performance in the first debate as evidence of a lack of charisma.

Perception of charisma is also heavily influenced by our personal biases. I'm sure that we perceive candidates we like as being more charismatic. I bet a majority of Democrats would say Obama is charismatic and a majority of Republican would disagree.

That isn't true. Obama was the more charismatic candidate before we knew he would won. Romney always really came off as disconnected and aloof. I don't think a majority of republicans would agree otherwise, they just hated Obama and only had to make due with Romney, not many of them were happy with that!

Bush and Clinton were charismatic in ways that both sides of the aisle could easily acknowledge. Charisma is a pre-req to being president, and is not conveyed on victory.

If Gore would have won in 2000, that would have been very interesting, since he really wasn't at the level of Bush on likability, he would have been the least charismatic president since...Johnson, Nixon, or the way Carter actually turned out.

Carter had a very folksy friendly persona in '76. Very upbeat. Johnson had his own way of being charismatic, and he only beat Goldwater. Nixon wasn't as charmless as his reputation would have you believe, and he had Humphrey and McGovern as opponents, so it's all relative.

Bush Sr. is the weakest point of the theory. He's pretty flat however you look at him. But Dukakis wasn't exactly Marlon Brando or anything. I don't think the theory could have won either way with those two.

"Bush Sr. is the weakest point of the theory. He's pretty flat however you look at him."

Words tossed around when he started his campaign were "efette", "wimp", and "unmanly". Obvious slurs, but he had a lot of public perception to get over.

"Had he lost, people would say the oposite, declaring him 'professorial' 'aloof' or 'elitist'"

People in the media have been saying that regardless of his performance.

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