Splitting hairs: What candidates' coifs can tell us about their politics

Posted at 11:44 AM, May 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-04 16:32:10-04

There are a few things to take away from Bernie Sanders’ presidential announcement last week: 1) There will be a slightly distracting guest at Hillary Clinton’s coronation ball  -- if there is one. 2) A self-described “democratic socialist” is running for president for the first time. And 3) The hair game in the 2016 race has been seriously elevated.

In a Senate chamber full of coiffed middle parts, Sanders’ mad scientist ‘do stands out as much as his left-of-left political views. But a politicians’ hair actually can tell us a little about what to expect from a campaign. Experts who have studied 3,000-year-old Chinese medicine (yes, really) have been able to derive that facial characteristics and hair can reveal a lot about personality.

Now, I’m not an expert in Chinese medicine, but I have been thinking deeply about Sanders, some of the other 2016 candidates and hair – yes, hair. This is what it all means for the race.

Bernie Sanders

Matching his political affiliation, the Vermont senator’s hair is independent. It is unwilling to be tamed. It is waging a rebellion on his head - and that is exactly what its candidate is doing, too. Hairspray contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, and Sanders? He won’t be a part of any of that. No, he let’s his locks fly wild and as free - free as the first two years of college would be under Sanders’ higher-education reform plan. Sanders claims that he is bringing a political revolution. If his nonconformist locks are an accurate preview, the world isn’t ready.

Marco Rubio

Rubio’s hairline is receding as quickly as his stance on immigration reform. There was some chatter about if his balding would hurt his chances at the presidency, but not to worry. A study cited by The Washington Post shows that balding does not hurt a candidate’s viability – whew! Rubio’s gauzy mop echoes his call for transparency in foreign aid. Neither his thin hair nor his thin legislative record will stop him from gunning for the White House.

Hillary Clinton

The Democratic frontrunner once said: “If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle.” If that’s true, Clinton has stolen a lot of A1 real estate through the years. Her latest iteration of herself -- low maintenance shoulder-length locks -- reflects her populist shift early in her 2016 campaign. Every woman can have her hair. Gone is the rigid power pixie of 2008, which put her at home with the Wall Street bankers. No, now Clinton is letting the locks flow where they may. Who knows? You might have the same stylist!

Ted Cruz

Texas Senator Ted Cruz doesn’t just have a part in his hair – he’s got a hard part in his hair. There is no question which side of the aisle – or scalp – that Cruz is on. His black hair is slicked as flat as his tax plan. Cruz’s strands are as unwavering as his faith in God, America and his defense of Israel. It shows some firm opinions that no amount of shampoo or moderate Republicans could change.

Rand Paul

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s ramen noodle hair is just kooky enough to say, “I’m not part of the Washington machine!” but without going full on Bernie Sanders. In the spirit of DIY individualism, Paul cuts his own hair. But at least he’s a little more conservative with cutting his locks than he would be with the defense budget!

[Also by Abby Johnston: Comparing Ron and Rand Paul]

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