The good, the bad and the ugly: do attractive politicians get a "break" when they are involved in scandals?

Daniel Stockemer, Rodrigo Praino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In general, politicians involved in scandals of various natures are punished by voters. Good-looking politicians, on the contrary, are rewarded by voters. Almost fifty years of empirical research has shown that ill-informed voters will use the physical attractiveness of candidates, as well as readily-available information on scandal allegations involving candidates running for office, as a heuristic shortcut to determine their voting behaviour. This article represents the first attempt to link the existing literature on the electoral effects of scandals with the existing literature of the electoral impact of candidate attractiveness. Using data on U.S. House of Representatives elections between 1972 and 2012, we find that candidate attractiveness mitigates the negative electoral effects of involvement in scandal; this implies that attractive politicians do get a “break” when involved in scandals. Of all type of scandals, we also find that candidate attractiveness has the largest moderating role if the incumbent is embroiled in a sex scandal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-767
Number of pages21
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2019


  • Physical attractiveness
  • Scandals
  • Elections
  • US House of Representatives
  • US Congress
  • US congress


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