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U.S. presidential candidates:
A question of height?

The taller the candidate, the better chance of winning

By Byron Toben

Thanks to all who found my earlier list of current U.S. Presidential Candidates by age useful. Ditto for my lists of historic female candidates for that office. Age and sex having been listed for whatever value they may have, one would have thought that the issue of height should not matter.

Bill de Blasio - WestmountMag.ca

Bill de Blasio and family – Image: Bill de Blasio [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

However, with the current visit of President Trump to London and the rancour between him and the mayor thereof, Sadiq Khan, resulting in the 6’3” Trump disparaging the 5’5” Khan as being only “half the size” of his (equally despised) 6’5” mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, I was inspired to investigate the history of height in Presidents. Indeed, the taller candidate usually won, especially since 1900.

Hence, below are the heights of the various 2020 candidates, followed by all 44 elected presidents and their opponents since George Washington, who was acclaimed unopposed.
2020 candidates

Republican – two candidates

6’4” Bill Weld
6’3” Donald Trump

Democrat – 23 candidates of which only 10 have height available

6’5” Bill de Blasio
6’4” Beto O’Rourke, Wayne Messam
6’2” Cory Booker
6’0” Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell
5’8” Elizabeth Warren
5’7” Andrew Yang
5’2” Kamala Harris

US Presidents montage - WestmountMag.ca

Montage of official presidential portraits – Image: Public Domain

Historic Presidents summary of height

Tallest ever – 6’4” Abraham Lincoln (elected twice)
Shortest ever – 5’4” James Madison (elected twice)

Tallest loser ever was 6’5” Winfield Scott and shortest loser ever was 5’4” Stephen Douglas.

In the 56 elections since 6’2” George Washington, was acclaimed unopposed, there have been 44 presidents elected.
The taller have won 25 times, the shorter, 18 times. On one occasion there was a tie.

The shorter who have won are:

2004 – George W. Bush 5’11 ½” over John Kerry 6’4”
2000 – George W. Bush 5’11 ½” over Al Gore 6’1”
1976 – Jimmy Carter 5’9 ½” over Gerald Ford 6’0”
1972 – Richard Nixon 5’11 ½” over George McGovern 6’1”
1940 – Franklin Roosevelt 6’2” over Wendell Willkie 6’2 ½ “
1924 – Calvin Coolidge 5’10” over John Davis 5’11”
1900 – William McKinley 5’7” over William Jennings Bryan 5’11”
1888 – Benjamin Harrison 5’6” over Grover Cleveland 5’11”
1880 – James Garfield 6’0” over Winfield Hancock 6’1 ½”
1876 – Rutherford Hayes 5’8 ½ over Samuel Tilden 5’10”
1872 – Ulysses Grant 5’8” over Horace Greeley 5’10”
1852 – Franklin Pierce 5’10” over Winfield Scott 6’5”
1848 – Zachary Taylor 5’8” over Lewis Cass 5’8 ½”
1844 – James Polk 5’8” over Henry Clay 6’1”
1836 – Martin Van Buren 5’6” over Hugh White 5’11” and William Harrison 5’8”
1824 – John Quincy Adams 5’7 ½” over William Crawford 6’3” and two others at 6’1”
1812 – James Madison 5’4” over DeWitt Clinton 6’3”
1796 – John Adams 5’7” over Thomas Jefferson 6’2 ½”

The height tie was in 1884, when both winner Grover Cleveland and loser James Blaine were 5’11”.

The greatest disparity in height difference was a full foot of 12 inches – Lincoln’s 1860 win over Douglas.

In the 56 elections since 6’2” George Washington, was acclaimed unopposed, there have been 44 presidents elected. The taller have won 25 times, the shorter, 18 times. On one occasion there was a tie.

Other predictors involving inches

Some sports have been describes as “a game of inches” – Coach Vince Lombardi (football) and pitcher Bob Feller (baseball)

Zodiac signs of past presidents

Not going into great detail, but for the record, 10 of the 12 zodiac periods have produced all the US presidents. Only Leo and Scorpio have none so far.

The breakdown summary of elections won by those born under Aquarius is 11, Pisces 8, Taurus 6; Cancer, Libra and Capricorn, each 4; Sagittarius 3, Gemini, Virgo and Aries each 2.

I pray that policies, logic and records will govern more than height or sign, but that hasn’t always worked out much, so who knows?

Readers are encouraged to submit other predictors or coincidences and send them in to info@WestmountMag.ca

Feature image: Abraham Lincoln, the tallest US President so far, Library of Congress [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.ca

Read more articles from Byron Toben


Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.

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