This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



August 2003

Graph Data Wanted

I am working on a graph and analysis I think will be interesting to quantify the oft repeated but infrequently quantified statements about taller candidates winning more often in presidential races. I have a lot of data already, but for completeness I still need the heights of a bunch of losing presidential candidates of the past. If anybody out there has this information (and a URL or reference to document it) or just has pointers on where to look, I would much appreciate it.

With a little googling I was able to quickly find the heights of all the top two electoral vote getters for every election since 1788, EXCEPT these guys:

1800 – Aaron Burr (Democratic-Republican)
1804 – Charles Pinckney (Federalist)
1808 – Charles Pinckney (Federalist)
1812 – DeWitt Clinton (Federalist)
1816 – Rufus King (Federalist)
1832 – Henry Clay (National Republican)
1844 – Henry Clay (Whig)
1848 – Lewis Cass (Democrat)
1852 – Winfield Scott (Whig)
1856 – John Fremont (Republican)
1860 – John Breckenridge (Southern Democrat)
1868 – Horatio Seymour (Democrat)
1872 – Horace Greeley (Democrat)
1876 – Samuel Tilden (Democrat)
1880 – Winfield Hancock (Democrat)
1884 – James Blaine (Republican)
1904 – Alton Parker (Democrat)
1916 – Charles Hughes (Republican)
1920 – James Cox (Democrat)
1924 – John Davis (Democrat)
1928 – Alfred Smith (Democrat)
1936 – Alfred Landon (Republican)
1940 – Wendell Willkie (Republican)
1952 – Adlai Stevenson (Democrat)
1956 – Adlai Stevenson (Democrat)
1964 – Barry Goldwater (Republican)
1968 – Hubert Humphrey (Democrat)
1972 – George McGovern (Democrat)
1984 – Walter Mondale (Democrat)

OK, that is a lot I still haven’t found. Finding the heights of the people who won and became president was easy. Unless the height was unusual though, finding heights for the losers is harder. I may do a bit more google hunting, but I am suspecting a trip to a dusty old library to find out of print biographies or contemporary reports on some of these people may be needed.

Right now with the data I do have, the “taller usually wins” thing is definately holding up, with the effect being much stronger in the 20th century than the 19th. In addition, there seems to be a correlation (albiet a very weak one and possibly not significant) that the greater the height difference, the larger the margin of victory. Effects can be seen both looking at popular vote results, and electoral college results. Very interesting.

However at this point I only have complete height data for 25 out of 54 elections.

That’s less than half. So the trends I am seeing in the graphs may completely go away and turn into something else entirely based on the remaining data. So I’m not ready to show any graphs or actually draw any conclusions until I have more data.

Anyway, this is fun stuff. I’ve kept hearing the “taller wins” story for years, but never seen the data to back it up, and I’ve searched for it on the web multiple times before. I’m sure the research has been done before, what I am doing here is not original, but I guess it just hasn’t been put up on the web, or perhaps I just haven’t been using the right search terms to find it.

Since I couldn’t find the info on the web or any actual statistical analysis, I thought I would do it myself.

But getting the heights of some of these famous at the time but now completely obscure people from the 1800’s, egads! Not to mention even people still around like Walter Mondale. I would have thought his height would have just popped up right away on a search, but NO. They have to make it hard! :-) On each I would try various google searches for about 10 minutes, then if I hadn’t found a height I would move on. If I did find one, I’d document the source and get my data point. But like I said, some of these heights may take more than 10 minutes on Google to find!

Anyway, if anybody has some tips or info on the people above, please let me know!