Opinion
Get Opinion in your inbox -- sign up for our weekly newsletter
Top of the Ticket
Opinion Top of the Ticket

Will voters still love Chris Christie when he's not so fat?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is worried enough about an early death due to obesity that, two weeks ago under a fake name, he checked himself into a hospital and had lap-band surgery on his stomach. It is being reported that having his tummy tied has already cut his food intake enough to help him shed 40 pounds.

The cable news pundit corps immediately questioned whether Christie was dropping weight to prepare for a presidential campaign in 2016, as if staying alive to see his children grow up and have children of their own were not motivation enough. However valid or specious, such speculation carries the clear implication that Americans would not elect a fat man to be president.

Is that true?

According to a recent poll, 76% of voters in New Jersey have a positive view of overweight candidates. It is hard not to think that has a lot to do with Christie’s current popularity in his home state, but it may also indicate that some people are more comfortable with a politician who looks like them, rather than one who is too slim. (Could that be contributing to the pathological hatred some folks have for our current svelte president?)

A 2012 Gallup survey put the share of Americans who are obese at 26.2%. Another 36.1% are overweight. That is a large base of potentially sympathetic voters for a candidate who enjoys his Krispy Kremes, Double Whoppers with cheese and 64-ounce sodas from 7-11. President Bill Clinton was notorious, not just for sneaking around the Oval Office with Monica Lewinsky, but for sneaking out for a Big Mac at the McDonald’s a block from the White House. Perhaps Clinton remains one of the country’s most popular political figures because he not only feels the pain of common people but feels their appetites as well.

It has been a century since we have had a fat president. William Howard Taft weighed in at 332 pounds and is said to have gotten stuck in the White House bathtub. In his day, his girth was uncommon. These days, millions of Americans are equally super-sized.

If politics really played a part in Chris Christie’s calculation, losing weight might not have been an obvious political plus. There are certainly voters who are biased against an overweight candidate, but there may be just as many who are portly themselves and who would not like being reminded of that fact every time they see a candidate who was once one of them wearing pants six sizes smaller.

If Christie starts eating arugula instead of pie ala mode, we’ll know he’s gone too far.

 

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Exercising 2nd Amendment rights, Kentucky 5-year-old kills sister

    Exercising 2nd Amendment rights, Kentucky 5-year-old kills sister

    This week, a 5-year-old Kentucky boy was playing with the mini-rifle he had gotten as a gift and ended up shooting and killing his 2-year-old sister. Apparently, even kindergartners have a right to keep and bear arms that shall not be infringed.

  • Time to wake from the American Dream and face retirement reality

    Time to wake from the American Dream and face retirement reality

    The retirement plans of more and more Americans are about as connected to reality as Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Grim is exactly what it is going to be for these folks when, in their 70s, their 401(k)s have petered out, they have no pensions and no income except what they get from the tottering Social...

  • Would the GOP's healthcare ideas work? It depends on your definition of 'work.'

    Would the GOP's healthcare ideas work? It depends on your definition of 'work.'

    Just like in the 2012 election, every Republican candidate for president wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Some of the candidates have even come forward with ideas for replacing it, and we are beginning to get a sense of what Republican healthcare reform might look like.

  • Compulsory kindergarten: Still a bad idea

    Compulsory kindergarten: Still a bad idea

    Kindergarten hasn't been its old self for a long time. After decades of increasing focus on academics, it recently became more standardized as well; the curriculum for California's 5-year-olds is now aligned with the Common Core academic standards. Kindergarten teachers are no longer preoccupied...

  • Back to school, again and again

    Back to school, again and again

    Even in places that remain in touch with the rhythms of agriculture, few seasonal markers prove as heady, reliable and poignant as the reopening of school. Every September the crosswalks ripen with kids in their back-to-school clothes; the long yellow buses harvest our lanes and streets. First...

  • Return to New Orleans - an open hand, a welcome home

    Return to New Orleans - an open hand, a welcome home

    Like most people with people "at home" in New Orleans, I found myself both here and there in 2005. By late August, I was daily monitoring weather maps two time zones away. I watched how a "tropical system" gathered force, how it garnered enough ferocity to be granted a name. Katrina looked serious,...

Comments
Loading
72°