Professor Scores Candidates By The Sound Of Their Name

CHENEY, WA — Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton clashed in Cleveland Tuesday night over trade, health care and the war in Iraq.

The debate comes days before critical primaries in Texas and Ohio next week.

Obama leads in the polls but an Eastern Washington University professor says he trails if you look at his last name. This professor has done research about names and their influence on elections.

Grant Smith studies how the rhythm of a candidate’s name can help or hurt them win an election. He doesn’t look at issues, but how the sound of their name influences your vote, and how a candidate’s last name can impact the outcome of an election.

“Voter behavior is affected, a little bit at least, by the sound of the name,” Smith said. “First names don’t seem to make a difference.”

“I’m measuring the comfort factor of a name.”

He’s created a formula that he says has a 65-percent success rate at predicting elections, based on names alone.

“The stats say this are highly reliable projections,” Smith said.

His formula looks at 20 different variables and gives points based on sounds and rhythm.

“Children’s poetry – Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater had a wife and couldn’t keep her – it goes da – da, strong soft, soft, strong soft.

Clinton, Reagan, Lincoln, Truman,” Smith said.

All presidential winners with high scoring names. Smith would not predict who will win in November but scored the candidates names.

“The name Clinton has a very high score, but the candidate is branding herself by the name as Hillary. That’s not high as of a score. Obama scores higher. 

Clinton scored a 6.5, Obama a 4.5.

“It’s a little strange, so it’s taken voters time to get used to it. The more they get used to it the more they like it,” Smith said.

McCain’s name scored a 2.0

“McCain is kind of middle score, not too bad, not as good as Obama, not as good as Clinton not as good as Huckabee as far as the rhythm,” Smith said.

The highest scoring presidential name was Reagan. The lowest was Bush.

The formula predicted Bush beating Dukakis, but not beating Kerry. Smith says the formula is right about 65 percent of the time.