Could a Bachelor Win the Presidency?
Cuomo and Booker have been touted as contenders. Here's what experts say these politicians face.
Goldman explained that being divorced, which the three aforementioned bachelors are, also makes a difference in the eyes of voters. "You look at Bloomberg, and he's a guy who has dealt with the same everyday realities most people have at some point: having a wife, kids, taking care of them and having to deal with in-laws, etc."
Goldman pointed out that after Sen. John Kerry's divorce, he settled down with Teresa Heinz, his second wife, before running for president. "I think it's fair to say John Kerry's credibility as a national candidate was greatly enhanced when he married Teresa."
Goldman added that remarrying similarly improved the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's professional image after it had begun to fade. "Marrying Vicki [Victoria Reggie Kennedy] helped him tremendously." Goldman summarized his point as this: There is something about marriage and couplehood that many people associate with being a stable grown-up.
Other Times They Discriminate
Geer highlighted one of the ways in which not being married can handicap a candidate. Recalling the racially charged Senate race in Tennessee between former Rep. Harold Ford, who is African American, and Bob Corker, who is white, Geer pointed out that at the end of the candidates' debates, Corker would bring out his wife and children.
Because Ford's extended family, who were also politicians, were facing some unflattering allegations of corruption, they never joined him onstage after debates. On top of that, he wasn't married and often found himself alone. "Being a bachelor, he couldn't as easily differentiate [himself] from his family [of origin] because he didn't have his own," Geer said.
Geer went on to note that Ford's loss speaks to the other dangers that bachelor candidates face -- particularly if they are black.
Ford was the target of what is widely considered to be one of the most subtly racist ads in recent political memory, an ad that Geer said made the 1988 "Willie Horton ad look like child's play."
In it, a young white woman says, "I met Harold at the Playboy Mansion," and closes the ad by winking seductively and saying, "Harold ... call me." Ford, a bachelor, had attended a Super Bowl party hosted by Playboy. While he tried to laugh off the attack with the retort, "I love Jesus, I love girls and I absolutely love football," the ad was seen as damaging, and he lost the election.